Jessica Ennis-Hill coach accused of verbal abuse by British Athletics

Toni Minichiello and Jessica Ennis-Hill
Toni Minichiello and Jessica Ennis-Hill
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Sheffield’s Toni Minichiello, the former coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill, has been handed a written warning by British Athletics after “an allegation of misconduct (verbal abuse)” against him.

A British Athletics statement said: “The panel issued Mr Minichiello with a written warning about his conduct. The decision is not subject to any further appeal procedures by either side.”

It’s thought the athlete who made a written complaint is not Ennis-Hill, who Minichiello coached to heptathlon gold at London 2012, but one who had worked with him for over a decade.

Minichiello told the Guardian: “As a coach I’ve always worked as hard as I can for all my athletes - we are in this to succeed together and it is disappointing when any coach-and-athlete relationship comes to an end. I understand her frustration but I think the letter is insulting and inaccurate.”

Minichiello has previously been critical of British Athletics over the influx of foreign coaches and rejected a part-time role with the governing body in 2013.

It meant he was made redundant, despite being named UK Coach of the Year in 2012 following Ennis-Hill’s gold medal in London, as part of a restructure of the high-performance programme.

He was also critical of British Athletics’ attempts to convince Ennis-Hill to move from her base in Sheffield to Loughborough and said it would not have benefited her. Minichiello worked with Ennis-Hill for almost 20 years after they first met when she a teenager and coached her through to her retirement last year.

Ennis-Hill quit in October 2016 after winning silver at the Rio Olympics.

Under Minichiello she also won three World Championship heptathlon titles, the third being awarded in November after Tatyana Chernova was stripped of her 2011 crown for a doping violation, a World Indoors pentathlon gold medal and a 2010 European Championships win.