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Cotterell: Business As Usual With China

Sep 26, 2012  - Craig Lord

Denis Cotterell will continue to build China into a swimming powerhouse, he tells Aussie media today. 

This week, Chinese media quoted Sun Yang as saying that he had heard Cotterell was to be banned by Swimming Australia from coaching him and other Chinese athletes.

But the coach said the Chinese reports were "totally erroneous" and that Chinese Swimming Association officials were soon to visit the Gold Coast to discuss details for the next training block at Miami for about 20 Chinese swimmers.

China intends to not only hold on to its world No 2 spot but aims to use Australian coaches to continue to keep Australia below it on the ranks at the biggest of meets.

Cotterell had no idea where the story had come from, while Swimming Australia CEO Kevin Neil saying the organisation was also in the dark. Xinhua also reported that the story had no substance.

The quotes from Sun Yang suggest that the story took flight in this fashion:

Reporter: I hear Australia will ban Cotterell from coaching you because outgoing Swimming Australia president David Urquhart has described Australia's role in ensuring that China beats the Dolphins is "not the ideal situation".

Sun Yang: "He still wants to work with me and so do I. We will find out if we can still make it work. I think the training methods there have fit me very well. I don't want to change anything or find a new place. I wish I could be able to maintain the cooperation with him [Cotterell] and he thinks so too." - actual quote

Reporter believes he has a line and runs with it - but the line is fabricated by the reporter's question, not reality.

The story was published widely in Chinese publications, both in Chinese and English.

Cotterell might have inadvertently fuelled the fire when he told Australian media that he wanted to take a break from having overseas swimmers visit his Miami programme until rthe end of the year. 

He clarified with Australian media today: "But I sent an email (on Monday) saying I've had inquiries from about 20 already for next year and I've given them the indication that it's really (up to) Chinese Swimming Association approval. In principle, there's no change. That's the bottom line."

He confirmed: "No one from China's actually been in contact with me since the Games. They've already got their invitations for next year and (Sun) was meant to come out from December 27, or something like that. We gave them that before they went to the Olympics."

That time frame indicates the reality of the situation: while Chinese swimmers cite the Australian coaching system as the reason for their success (and it doubtless does play a part) when they emerge from successful races, they actually spend most time at home with domestic coaches in national, provincial and home units.

Sun is coached by Zhu Zhigen at home.