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Ennis coach hits back at 'fat' claims

ESPN staff
May 25, 2012 « Racism fears keep Ox's family away from Euro 2012 | Chartbeat test »

Jessica Ennis' coach has hit out at senior figures within UK Athletics for what he claims are distractions to her preparations for this summer's Olympic Games.

Ennis a key medal hope for Britain, having won gold in the heptathlon at the World Championships in 2009 and silver two years later, but her coach Toni Minichiello claims a "high-ranking person" within UK Athletics had suggested that "she's fat and she's got too much weight".

It is a claim Minichiello has dismissed out of hand, with the 45-year-old admitting part of his job is to ensure Ennis does not have her head turned by such distractions.

"I get emails, phone calls, text messages and voicemails giving me advice on what I should be doing with Jessica Ennis that's going to make a difference. It's a lot of background noise that you can get easily distracted by," Minichiello told the Guardian. "I always read it and have a look and think maybe there is something there. Yes, it might be a great idea, but it's not a great idea for today, it's a great idea for next year. I've never had any issue with her weight or shape. There are times I've wished she was taller, but that's it."

There are suggestions that the BOA is poised to ask all athletes to sign up to a code of conduct. It is something that Minichiello does not feel is necessary. He said: "The Olympics, for Jess, is an individual environment and she knows how to behave to get the best out of herself.

"You know what? Jessica doesn't have a problem with behaviour. We don't have an issue there, we're not going to get embroiled in bad stuff. She signs the flag, we just get on. It's an aesthetic." He added: "I may get into trouble for [saying] that."

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