• Athletics

Bolt beaten on 2013 bow as Ennis's coach goes to war

ESPN staff
February 10, 2013
Usain Bolt did not win on his return to action © Getty Images

Usain Bolt was beaten on his first appearance of 2013 in a low-key 400 metres race in Jamaica on Saturday.

Bolt, the triple Olympic gold medallist from London 2012, chose the one-lap track event for his first competitive runout of 2013 - as he has often done in previous seasons.

He won his heat at the Camperdown Classic in a time of 46.71 seconds, but was ultimately forced to settle for third overall after Olympic 4x100m relay team-mates Yohan Blake and Warren Weir both posted faster times in subsequent heats.

Bolt's next public appearance is scheduled to be in a different sport entirely - as he is currently signed up to participate in the celebrity basketball match at the forthcoming NBA All-Star weekend.

Elsewhere, Toni Minichiello, the coach of Olympic champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis, has rejected British Athletics' consultancy employment package for the new year.

The offer, described as "take it or leave it" by Minichiello, was believed to be a reduction on previous levels - with Minichiello, who only coaches Ennis at elite level, falling foul of new British Athletics guidelines that demand coaches work with at least two world-class athletes to qualify for full-time employment.

"I reflected on it [the offer] and thought, well, if that's how I'm valued it probably does make sense to leave it," Minichiello, the only British coach of a Team GB track gold medallist last summer, said. "My door's open if they want to come back and renegotiate."

He added: ""There were three or four people I didn't get a text from after Jess won the Olympics. One was Niels de Vos [British Athletics' chief executive] and one was Ed Warner [the chairman], so if you look it at it, the writing was pretty much on the wall there and then in terms of their level of respect for what I'd done as a coach."

It has been suggested that Ennis - whose commercial profile has risen immeasurably as a result of her London gold - may now contribute towards Minichiello's services herself, but no such arrangement has been decided upon yet.

"The only downside is finding something that will still allow me to coach Jessica 9 to 5, six days a week," Minichiello said. "However, you make these things work. You have to. We did it before, we'll do it again."

British Athletics said in a statement: "We made Toni Minichiello a good offer to continue working with us. He has decided he would prefer to coach independently. We have no issue with that and respect his decision.

"His track record working with Jessica is superb and if he feels his decision is the best way to maintain their success then we respect that. We will continue to support Jess and Toni 100% with all their training, medical and support services."

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