THERE was no Jess but it was business as usual for Toni Minichiello this weekend at the English Institute of Sport.
With his relationship with British Athletics in ruins after he turned down their offer of working on a consultancy basis and Jessica Ennis opting not to compete indoors this season, Minichiello’s attention turned to other athletes he coaches at the venue that doubled up as the home of the British Indoor Championships and European Trials.
And they didn’t let him down.
Young long jumper Jazmin Sawyers, who moved to Sheffield for her studies and also to train alongside Ennis and Minichiello, broke her personal best and narrowly missed out on a medal.
Rotherham sprinter Louise Bloor, who has just finished a part-time Masters degree course and combines working full time at Maltby Academy, with her athletics career picked up a bronze medal in the 200 metres.
And heptathlete Karla Drew, despite crashing out of the final of the 60m hurdles, demonstrated enough promise during the heats to get her coach’s seal of approval.
Bloor, aged 27, was third in the 200 metres in a time of 23.95 after winning her heat in 23.91. She said Minichiello’s situation hadn’t affected his athletes: “I made the final and then it’s all about getting a medal. I’m really pleased.
“‘Chell’ hasn’t given us any need to feel insecure about our position. He’s a professional person and he’ll manage that side of things.
“He’s very professional and a fantastic speaker, so I know a lot of people approach him for that. There’s a lot of avenues he can go down.
“He’ll be coaching me. There’s a massive aspect of loyalty there. I know what he does works and I’m a loyal person and I think he’s the same. He always looks after his athletes. Through injuries and everything he’s always there. He’s a very professional coach to have.”
Sheffield Hallam University psychology student Drew, aged 23, said: “I didn’t get a very good start and then I just went straight down on top of a hurdle and I couldn’t get back from that.
“I moved up here for ‘Chell.’ Toni’s such a good coach and I needed to make the step up from school athletics to seniors. And it’s really paid off, because he’s a great coach and there’s no bigger inspiration than training with Jess.”
Sawyers, aged 18, finished sixth in the long jump with a leap of 6.10 metres.
Sheffield’s Mukhtar Mohammed was second in the 800m despite having the same time as winner Joe Thomas.
Luke Cutts (Dearne ALC) was in good form in the pole vault finishing runner up in the pole vault with a clearance of 5.35m. Jamie Williamson (City of Sheffield) was fifth in the shot with 17.67m.