With Jessica Ennis-Hill having announced her retirement from athletics, her long-time coach Toni Minichiello says she still has a lot to give sport
Now that Jessica Ennis-Hill has brought the curtain down on her illustrious athletics career, what does she do next?
She’s unlikely to be short of opportunities and there will undoubtedly be efforts made to keep her within the sport in some guise. However, her long-term coach Toni Minichiello believes she has much to offer the wider sporting world – and even high-level business.
“We always talk about keeping the athletes in the sport and so on and so forth, and I would be hopeful that somebody somewhere is smart enough to realise that she has a lot to give sport in general,” he says. “Not just in athletics but sport across the board, talking about her experiences and what she does.”
As Minichiello points out, the Olympic and world heptathlon gold medallist has crammed a number of experiences – and not all of them good – into her career which make her an incredibly valuable resource.
“There are four things about her that are career-defining,” he explains.
“Winning a medal as an under-15 at the English Schools and then becoming an Olympic champion – that’s pretty much unheard of.
“You’ve got coming back from three stress fractures – now that was a career-finisher – and she wins a world title.
“Winning a home Games in a home environment under that kind of pressure and expectation where a silver medal will make you a loser.
“Then coming back from pregnancy, which some people have tried and got nowhere near, and winning a world title and then still improving.
“Each one of those individually can define a career and you’d go ‘bloody hell!’ but to do all four? The experiences, the understanding, how you deal with expectation, the white noise around you… you know what, she could teach business a thing or two, she could teach sport across the board a thing or two,” he adds.
“How you deal with funding or not having funding, how to be determined about your sport and make progress. How do you make something happen?
“Let’s be honest, this is a girl that, at one point, the feeling was that she would have been better suited being based at Lee Valley. (People were telling her) ‘you need to be in London’. ‘Well, no I don’t actually, I want to be in Sheffield’.
“To have the strength of character to go ‘thank you but no thank you’, that takes something. People don’t see that – they always think that’s me being argumentative but, no, she made a decision when it was being pushed on her. She said ‘no thanks I’m staying here. This is what I’m going to do because I feel this is best for me. I’m going to stand by my conviction.”
» You can read Toni Minichiello’s blog at coachtorio.com