The Swiss middle distance runner, Anita Weyermann, has decided to dispense with the services of her father, Fritz, at least in regard to her coaching. Weyermann said she needed fresh motivation to get back in form in time for the Sydney Olympics.
The 22-year-old from Berne will now be trained by Christoph Schmid, a coach with the Swiss Athletics Association. The Association said it had put no pressure on Weyermann to make the decision.
Weyermann herself said the break had not been easy. "I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I should say it," she said. "But soon I'll be 23 years old and like every young woman I want to be independent and determine my own life."
The athlete admitted that having Fritz as both her father and coach had created a fair amount of family tension. "There was some wear and tear," she agreed. "I needed a little distance."
Weyermann, who won a bronze medal in the 1500 metres at the World Championships in 1997, said that her poor start to the season had not helped her relationship with her father. After injuring her knee in the winter, Weyermann suffered a broken elbow while training on a mountainbike in the spring. Having apparently recovered from both setbacks, her comeback ended early in a series of disappointing performances.
Weyermann now says she will only return to serious competition when she is back in form. With this in mind, the Athletics Association has given her more time to pass the Olympic qualifying standards. While other athletes have until mid-August to book their places for Sydney, Weyermann will have at least two more weeks. It is not clear if she will take part in the Swiss Championships at the end of July or at the Zurich Weltklasse meeting on August 11.
Whether or not Weyermann's announcement marks a final coaching split between father and daughter is not clear. The runner said she would be trained by Schmid until the Sydney games. Asked if Fritz might then take up the job once more, Weyermann replied only that she could not say.
Fritz himself was equally economic with his words when asked how it felt to be sacked by his daughter. "That's how life goes," was his only response.
swissinfo with agencies
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