TRY as he might to deflect any credit off himself and back on to his golden winning athlete, Toni Minichiello can argue no longer about the impact he has made on the career of Jessica Ennis after he was named Coach of the Year.
Minichiello was named Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards this week and was also among four coaches - alongside Rory McIlroy’s coach Michael Bannon, Peter Eriksson, the new head coach at UK Athletics, and women’s endurance track cycling coach Paul Manning - jointly named as the High-Performance Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards 2012.
Minichiello, a former St Wilfrid’s Primary School and All Saints High School student, helped Ennis to gold in the Olympics, where she clocked a British points record of 6,955 and set the fastest-ever heptathlon time in the 100m hurdles.
He started coaching in the mid-1990s and is a former national event coach for combined events, before switching roles in 2010 to become a UK Athletics Olympic coach and focusing on Ennis, who in 2009 had become heptathlon world champion.
After winning his awards Minichiello said he felt “great pride that somebody like her (Ennis) has allowed me to follow their journey”.
Extraordinarily, Minichiello has had to reapply for his job, as well as justify in an interview why he should continue to be paid by UK Athletics.
Yet Minichiello has admitted that he and Ennis were not an ideal pairing at the beginning of their relationship and accepted the blame for pushing her too hard.
“I’m a much better coach than when we started,” he added.
“Certainly I over-coached her in the early days. Now, you are there to support.
“That’s the one thing you have to learn as a coach; it’s not about you.”