Athletics: Lewis may dispense with Dick and Arbeit

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The Independent Online

Denise Lewis is set to turn to a new coaching regime and make a return to Birmingham. Frank Dick and Ekkart Arbeit look likely to part company with Lewis, who won Olympic heptathlon gold in Sydney three years ago, although nothing is set in stone with the heptathlete on holiday until the middle of next week.

"Sometimes it is in the interests of an athlete to move on - although I am delighted with the progress Denise has made since her comeback," Dick said. "Last week I wrote to her suggesting that the situation might arise where it might be in her own interests to look elsewhere.

Dick and the throwing specialist, Arbeit, guided Lewis to fifth place in last month's World Championships. But the recruitment of Arbeit, the former head of East Germany's drug-tarnished coaching regime, raised criticism throughout a summer when Lewis was fighting to re-establish her credentials. The Briton, who until this summer had not contested the heptathlon since the Olympics, admitted the criticism had had a minor affect.

Dick said: "Whatever decision she makes, I believe Denise still has the ability to achieve 7,000 points or more at the Olympics."If Dick and Arbeit do split from Lewis, her former coach, Charles van Commenee, is being touted as a possible replacement. The Dutchman, the UK Athletics' technical advisor for combined events, is based in Birmingham, where high-tech facilities have been added to Alexander Stadium.

But whether Lewis will team up with Van Commenee again is debatable. After she gave birth in April last year, he ended their links, claiming she could not be a mother and a world-class athlete.