AN ATHLETICS coach who helped a Dunfermline runner on her way to a memorable Olympic medal success has died.

Jimmy Bryce, who was 88, worked with Linsey Macdonald when she won bronze at the 1980 Moscow Games, and founded what is now known as Dunfermline Track and Field Club.

Originally from Alva, in Clackmannanshire, one of his greatest successes as an athlete came in 1956, when he won the famous New Year Powderhall Sprint, and competed on both the Highland and Border games' circuits for a further six decades.

As a coach, he helped 400 metres runner Macdonald – who was then aged just 16 – to reach the Great Britain squad for the Olympics, where she was a member of the women's 4x400m relay team that won bronze.

Jimmy, who moved to Lochgelly and, latterly, Cowdenbeath, went on to establish Lochgelly and District Athletics Club, which subsequently became known as Dunfermline and West Fife and then Dunfermline Track and Field, and took Gemma Sharp (née, Nicol) to her first Commonwealth Games in 2002.

Sharp, who was just 15 when she competed for Scotland in the 4x400m relay in Manchester, went on to take to the track at the Games in both 2010 and 2014, win several Scottish titles, and compete in six New Year Sprint finals.

On Twitter, she wrote: "It's hard to describe how much he influenced my career and life. He became more than just a coach, more like family.

"JB took me from this skinny wee athlete to my first Commonwealth Games at 15. I will forever have great memories of growing up, training and having a laugh at the track during the summer holidays.

"Even though I'm 33, I know I'll still be called 'the Bairn'. Thank you JB."

A post from Dunfermline Track and Field Club said: "It is with great sadness we record the passing of one of our club's founding members, and former head coach, Jimmy Bryce, affectionately known by all as JB.

"JB founded the club, originally known as Lochgelly & District Athletics Club, before becoming Dunfermline & West Fife, and now its modern-day name, Dunfermline Track & Field Club.

"JB was an inspiration to many. He was a coach for 'all' and had an admirable ability to give equal attention to athletes from junior level right up to elite level. JB had time for everybody and you always felt included and valued around him.

"JB was a coach who took as much pride in a new athlete, teaching their technique, as he did when one of his experienced athletes won a British title."

Having won the New Year Powderhall Sprint, Jimmy holds the distinction of having also coached a winner of the event, when Nick Smith triumphed in 2001, and he even returned to compete in 2006 to mark 50 years since his success.

Highland Games handicapper Don Campbell, the brainchild of the open-to-all Pitreavie Gift athletics festival, which was held in 2012 and 2013, knew Jimmy from when he moved to Lochgelly to work at the Taylor Instruments factory.

He said: "JB was literally running before he could walk and he developed into a fine sprinter and was to go on to claim what has always been seen as the top Scottish sprint double, winning at Powderhall in 1956, and then at Jedburgh Games in 1969.

"JB loved athletics and he could still be seen going to Highland Games meets well into his eighties.

"He was a fine runner and a prolific coach and someone who loved helping runners make the best of their talents."

The Scottish Highland Games Association added: "Jimmy was an inspirational character, setting many athletes on their path to a successful career in the sport.

"Athletics was his life and his influence around the tracks and parks will be sadly missed."

Jimmy is survived by his daughter, Julie, and grandchildren.