Charles van Commenee tried to relocate me to London, says Jessica Ennis
• 'Van Commenee knew move from Sheffield would be difficult'
• Coach Toni Minichiello and I stood our ground, says Ennis
Jessica Ennis has revealed how she stood up to Charles van Commenee when the former UK Athletics head coach attempted to force the heptathlete into relocating from Sheffield to London as part of the sport's restructuring in preparation for London 2012. When Ennis refused, the Dutchman chose a different tack by trying to move her coach, Toni Minichiello – a UKA employee – to Lee Valley.
"They knew that would be difficult for me," the Olympic champion told BBC 5 Live on Thursday, "because we work as a unit and we need each other to perform and to achieve what I need to achieve, but luckily Chell [her coach] was adamant we both believed in what we were doing in Sheffield and we stood strong with that and it worked out very well."
Van Commenee, who during his three-year reign became known for his controversial approach, used similar tactics on the high jumper Martyn Bernard when he threatened to remove his funding if the athlete did not relocate from Liverpool to London. He also famously had a year-long public spat with the triple jumper Phillips Idowu ahead of the Olympic Games.
Asked if it seemed that Van Commenee's methods were at odds with helping her to prepare for 2012, Ennis said: "Some comments maybe weren't great. I think Charles is a slightly different character and might go around things in a slightly different way." Asked if she was being diplomatic by the presenter, the 26-year old laughed and said: "I'm being very diplomatic, yeah."
Ennis wrote about the incident in her book, Unbelievable, released this week, recalling how – following her world indoor title win in Qatar in 2010 – Van Commenee had begun suggesting that Ennis should change her training setup. "I could not understand that," Ennis wrote. "I had won the world title and everything was working perfectly. Moving to London would have been the very worst thing for me."
She describes what the move would have meant – giving up life with her fiance, Andy, whose job was based in Sheffield, moving away from family and friends and her dog, Myla, to live in what she describes as akin to university halls of residence. She says Van Commenee simply "didn't get it.
I don't like conflict, but if it is something that I am passionate about then I will put my foot down and argue until the sun comes down".http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/no ... sica-ennis
I am also passionate about how this approach by UKA, at odds with the home nations, and how it leads to conflict, lack of trust and the erosion of performance coaching in this country. Hopefully, Eriksson will adopt a different approach and perhaps UKA will seriously consider coaching issues that have been ignored in the past.