Christian Malcolm always appeared on the fast-track for success though for a man used to going from A to B quickly he has taken a long and winding road to his biggest challenge yet, writes James Toney.
It's 22 years since Malcolm, now charged with British athletics success, was named world junior athlete of the year, winning 200m age group gold and Commonwealth Games silver while still in his teens.
But he rode a rollercoaster of emotions in his own Olympic career - understanding that will only enhance his standing with those whose ambitions he guides at Tokyo and beyond.
After rejecting the advances of Nottingham Forest and QPR, Malcolm made his Games debut as a 21-year old in Sydney, finishing fifth in a 200m final, just three hundredths outside a medal.
Four years later he arrived in Athens in peak fitness only to be struck down by a potentially fatal kidney failure on the eve of the Games, meaning he watched on as team-mates claimed 4x100m gold in thrilling fashion, a quartet he probably expected to be a key part of.
In Beijing, he finished fifth again but the traumatic experiences of four years earlier had already changed him and his outlook on sport, which helped make his transition to coaching seamless after his fourth Games appearance at London 2012, where he was part of the disqualified 4x100m relay team.
He prepared the British sprint relay squad that won gold and silver at the 2017 World Championships, has worked with the UK Paralympic team, Disability Wales and Athletics Australia.
He has been credited for his stint as a speed coach for England cricket and Welsh rugby, all roles that laid the foundation for his appointment as British Athletics' new head coach.
And for an athlete who liked to move quick, time is now of the essence, with just 323 days and counting until the start of the rearranged Games next summer.
"Words can't describe how excited I am to have the opportunity to take this role on and be part of a new start for British Athletics," said the 41-year old.
"As an athlete I knew I wanted to give back to the sport when I finished competing. In all my coaching and advisory roles so far, I have wanted to help athletes avoid the errors I made and support them and their coaches to get the best out of themselves.
"I've worked with some world class coaches throughout my career whilst competing, as part of the GB relay set up and whilst at Athletics Australia. They've all helped me to grow in various ways, but I know my first coach Jock Anderson would have been the most pleased to see me take this role and use all that he taught me about helping athletes prepare."
Malcolm will be a popular appointment with staff and athletes and he'll need all his natural communication skills as he takes on a role that is traditionally one of the toughest in British Olympic sport.
Team GB won seven athletics medals in Rio, including Mo Farah's two golds, and a similar haul will be expected from UK Sport next year.
He inherits a team packed with potential but perhaps short of the reliable podium faces of recent years. According to sports data specialists Gracenote, Dina Asher-Smith will win two medals including a gold, while Laura Muir is tipped to win the 1500m title and world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson to win heptathlon silver.