A DECISION to give up netball after 16 hugely successful years may just be about to pay off for coach Linda Nicholson.

The former international long-jumper is in the running to collect two major awards this month.

Linda set up Peebles Netball in 2003.

And took the club on an unbelievable run of achievements to make it one of the most successful in Scotland.

But last year Linda decided to call it a day - to concentrate on her other passion of coaching athletics, particularly jumping.

Despite being a woman in a very male dominated coaching world, and being based in the rural setting of Peebles with only a single run-strip and pit to work with, she has quickly become one of the most respected athletics coaches in the country.

Her rapid elevation was rewarded with a call up by Scottish Athletics to act as horizontal jumps coach for the national team when it competed at an international event in August.

Linda, who has always coached on a voluntary basis, admits the gamble to concentrate fully on athletics is paying off.

She told us: "After setting up netball in the Borders and both coaching and running the ever-expanding Peebles Netball, I finally had to make the decision to step back as athletics was also taking an increasing amount of time.

"I wanted to develop myself in athletics and see where I could get to - so far, yes, it seems to have paid off.

"I've had huge success this year with my local athletes, but was also able to take on three additional athletes as far away as Ullapool, Dingwall and Lockerbie.

"I've learned how to work remotely with them using technology and much travel."

Linda's expanded group of seven athletes have racked an amazing 33 medals between them at Scottish Championship events this year - including five new age-group records.

Local girls Ellie O'Hara, Imogen Lewis and Kate Harvie are ranked amongst the best in Britain at their age groups.

Three of her jumpers earned Great Britain Under 20s vests during the summer as well senior Scottish call-ups.

To cap a remarkable first year devoted to athletics, Linda has now been short-listed for the Scottish Women in Sport's Burness Paull Coach of the Year, and the Scottish Athletics' Development Coach of the Year.

Both ceremonies take place this month.

Linda added: "I am extremely proud to have been recognised for my coaching by these national bodies, with both very much supportive of women in coaching.

"It is very challenging and costly to coach athletes in rural areas with limited facilities, and to have my efforts acknowledged is a huge boost."