Sheffield-based coach Toni Minichiello suspended pending disciplinary investigation

Sheffield-based coach Toni Minichiello who guided Jessica Ennis-Hill to Olympic heptathlon glory has reportedly been suspended from coaching by UK Athletics pending a disciplinary investigation.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:54 pm

The Times understands that Minichiello, who now works as a BBC pundit, has been the subject of a number of complaints.

In February, the 55-year-old - who is also the coaching representative on the UKA members' council and the chair of British basketball - announced that he had joined forces with Ennis-Hill to guide the career of the highly promising heptathlete Niamh Emerson, 22.

Minichiello did not respond to a request for comment but he was absent from last weekend’s England Combined Events Championships in Bedford, where another of his athletes — Jade O’Dowda — won the women’s heptathlon.Ennis-Hill worked with Minichiello from the age of 13, securing Olympic gold medal at London in 2012 and a silver in Rio four years later. She also won four world titles.

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Toni Minichiello and Jessica Ennis-Hill

He then won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award in 2012 after Ennis’ win at the London 2012 Olympic games.

Minichiello, a highly respected coach who at times has been a vocal critic of the governing body, has faced disciplinary action in the past.

In 2017 he was issued with an official written warning about his conduct as a coach after being accused of verbally abusing a female athlete he had previously coached.

It led to a UKA case management group meeting to consider “an allegation of misconduct (verbal abuse)” against him.

“The panel issued Mr Minichiello with a written warning about his conduct,” read a UKA statement. “The decision by the case management group is not subject to any further appeal procedures by either side.”

Minichiello responded at the time in an interview with The Guardian, saying: “As a coach I have 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.”

Referring to the letter of complaint that was submitted by the athlete, he added: “I understand her frustration but I think the letter is insulting and inaccurate.”

UKA has declined to comment.