Australian butterfly star Jessicah Schipper has dumped longtime coach Ken Wood after he helped tutor the Chinese swimmer who beat her at the Beijing Olympics.
Schipper won the bronze medal in the 200m butterfly while Liu Zige took the gold, breaking Schipper’s world record by 1.22 seconds.
Liu had spent time training alongside Schipper in Brisbane earlier in the year and had also purchased a training program from Wood, who had coached Schipper for 10 years.
Wood, 78, said Tuesday his split with Schipper was amicable.
“You have the feeling that these things are coming,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
“I asked Jess and she said, ‘I’ll probably look at a new start somewhere,’ and I said, ‘Well Jess, I’d like to wish you all the best. You’re probably right, I think I’ve taken you as far as I can take you,’” Wood said.
“I spoke with Wolf [Schipper’s father] ... and he expressed concerns about my coaching international swimmers and he asked me if I was going to continue doing that. And I said, ‘Yes I am, I’m a swimming coach, I coach swimmers, that’s what I do,’” Wood said.
Schipper, 21, also took bronze in the 100 butterfly behind Australian Libby Trickett, and was part of the gold medal-winning Australian 4x100 medley relay team.
Wood said during the games in Beijing he had sold Liu a training program but denied it was Schipper’s program.
“All [the Chinese] were doing was giving me a fee for two programs which weren’t specific to Jess because everyone’s different and capable of different work,” Wood said. “Of course I wanted Jess to win and at that stage Liu was nowhere near her class.”
Wood said he had told Schipper’s parents he had previously coached English swimmers as well and that it was not a conflict of interest.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to look at it realistically ... I get probably A$1,370 [US$1,165] or somewhere around there for coaching Jess for 12 months and these people gave me A$1,500 for four weeks,’” he said. “I have to run a business.”