Spain: Frenchman Fred Vergnoux, coach at CN Sabadell and the man who guided Mireia Belmonte to two Olympic silver medals at London 2012, over 200m butterfly and 800m freestyle, has been voted Spain's coach of the year by his peers at the Asociación Española de Técnicos de Natación (AETN). Vergnoux, who married former world 200m freestyle champion Alena Popchanka, arrived in Spain a couple of years back after soaking up experience in coaching jobs in France, Russia, the US and Britain before taking a job at the Racing Club de Paris.
Germany: after her coach Norbert Warnatsch came out of retirement to see Britta Steffen, among others, through to a home European Championships in 2014, the 2008 double Olympic champion has opted to move away from Berlin Neukolln and train at Halle with boyfriend Paul Biedermann. Head coach at the Saxon club is Frank Embacher. While Steffen is undecided about whether she will make it as far as Rio 2016, Biedermann has announced that he will race on to another Games campaign.
Hong Kong: host to the 1999 world s/c championships, Hong Kong says it is confident of raising the US$12m it needs to stage the same event in either 2016 or 2018. Speaking of its latest bid, Hong Kong Swimming Association honorary secretary Ronnie Wong Man-chiu told local media: "The budget for hosting the event is estimated to be US$12 million and it's not a small amount of money. But it is one of the biggest events in the world, and it would be a big honour for our city to be the host. Hong Kong is a world business centre and we are confident of securing adequate commercial support to make the event happen. We will also approach the government for backing, as we know its Mega Events Fund is keen to help sport financially." A decision on which of the bidders will host the 2016 event will be made by FINA during the world s/c championships in Istanbul this December. Doha is scheduled to stage the 2014 event. Hong Kong hands out great amounts to stage sporting events: last week, the MEF allocated HK$15 million to the golf association for next month's Hong Kong Open, while the Kitchee Foundation also received HK$8 million for its proposed exhibition against English Premier League powerhouses Manchester United next summer. For the swimming event, Wong expects $6m from ticket sales and what local media described as "in-kind support". The rest of the budget would come from state funds and sponsorship.