Although the myth that Swimming Australia has forbidden its coaches from training Chinese athletes has been long-ago busted, the popular sentiment in many corners down under would still prefer that Australians work only on developing Australians. Perhaps feeling the heat, top Australian coach Stephan Widmer has taken up a coaching job in China, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph.
Widmer, who is Swiss by birth, left his post at the Queensland Academy of Sport post-Olympics in what he described as an opportunity to take his family back home for a year. The former coach of such stars as Melanie Schlanger, Libby Trickett, and Leisel Jones is exiting the country just as Australia has spent piles of money to bring in international coaches like former Danish lead Paulus Wildeboer and New Zealander Scott Talbot.
He will be working with a Chinese squad that is taking camp at a massive training retreat in Thailand for 6 weeks, including swimmers like Wang Haibing, Cheng Feiyi and Li Xiayan.
Though Widmer is reported to be working specifically with the Chinese, this camp will have huge pverlapping international contingents that includes the Dutch National Team, led by head coach Jacco Verhaeren and Olympic Champion Ranomi Kronowidjojo; the Hungarian National Team; Italian powercouple Federica Pellegrini and Filippo Magnini; and in February a British contingent.