Athletics: Toni commits to Jess’s future

Jessica Ennis receives instructions from her coach Tony Minichiello.
Jessica Ennis receives instructions from her coach Tony Minichiello.

TONI Minichiello has declared his commitment to coaching Olympic champion Jessica Ennis and staying in Sheffield despite being made redundant by British Athletics, writes Richard Fidler.

The current Coach of the Year is still negotiating a ‘consultancy’ role with the sport’s governing body but has told The Star he intends to remain loyal to Ennis whatever the outcome.

He said: “I made a commitment to Jessica when she was 11 that I’d coach her and I’m not about to change that now. I’ve made a commitment to train her through to Rio and I will keep my word.”

Of a more pressing concern to Minichiello is the future of athletics in his home city. He worries that not enough is being done to capitalise on the success of the Olympics.

He said: “Whether or not Don Valley closes the sport will still carry on in the city. What are the strategies? It’s still not too late to get a legacy out of this (the Olympics). How will we raise standards?”

He says there is massive enthusiasm for the sport in Sheffield: “I was speaking to someone the other day who has a four-year old daughter. She tells her mother her name is ‘Jessica’ because she loves athletics so much.

“I have parents who tell me their kids are ‘playing heptathlon’. I’m not going to walk away from that.”

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