Update: Swimming Australia denies China Daily report.
In apparently one of the first conclusions as Swimming Australia tries to rebound from a disappointing Olympic performance, the governing body for aquatics Down Under has banned Denis Cotterell from training foreign athletes, World Record holder Sun Yang told the English-language China Daily.
Cotterell is one of the most heralded distance coaches in history, and began work with Yang in 2010. Since then, Yang has gone on to win a World Championship, China’s first two ever men’s swimming Olympic gold medals, and destroy the World Record in the 1500 free. That’s a mark that previously belonged to another Cotterell prodigy: Grant Hackett. Yang did it with an efficiency of stroke that is unparalleled in the sport, and one that would seem to obviously have been influenced heavily by Cotterell.
Thus far, only the Chinese perspective on the story has been told, and one would imagine that the conversation between Swimming Australia and Cotterell was more intricate, complex, and nuanced than just an outright ban on coaching foreign athletes. No response from Swimming Australia was immediately received on the matter, though it is after business hours there.
This “ban” likely had some caveat about the ability to be a part of Australia’s National program while coaching international athletes, for example, or to receive Swimming Australia subsidies.
In the sense of an outright ban, it would likely result in Australia losing the services of one of their best coaches at a time when their men’s distance group is struggling mightily. That’s because the numbers that have been thrown out for how much China is paying Cotterell to coach Yang are staggering. China Daily reports on rumors that he received a $500,000 bonus for the World Record, and Cotterell has previously said that he makes four-times more per month for training Chinese swimmers than he does with his home club.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but with that level of success and money on the line, I would predict that Yang and Cotterell will find a way to be together through the next Olympics.