After almost a decade together, triathlete Bevan Docherty and coach Mark Elliott have parted ways.
The decision has been a well-kept secret which has come to light just over two months from the Olympic race on August 4.
The pair are understood to have come to an amicable agreement last November that Docherty would build an independent campaign to London as he pursues a gold medal to complete an Olympic boxed set to go with Athens silver and Beijing bronze.
However, it means Docherty faces new mental territory entering the Games as he plots a scenario to top the podium.
The decision is an extension of what had been a long-distance relationship for some time. Docherty is based with his wife and two children (both aged under 20 months) in Santa Cruz, California.
Elliott leads the BikeNZ high performance programme and has spent much of his year travelling the world, forming Games medal strategies for the New Zealand road, track, mountain bike and BMX teams.
The Docherty-Elliott partnership has been a triumph by New Zealand Olympic sport standards. Since their start together in 2002, they have secured a world championship gold (2004) and silver (2008) in addition to the Olympic gongs. No other New Zealand athlete except rowing's Evers-Swindell twins have had as much podium success across those two top echelon events during that time frame.
The long distance arrangement conjures up memories of Sir John Walker receiving his plans for seasons in Europe from legendary coach Arch Jelley. Elliott is currently in Birmingham monitoring New Zealand's pre-Olympic progress at the BMX world championships.
He says the decision is about what was best for Docherty: "We were 'married' for 10 years after starting casually in 2002. Moving on last November was the right time for both of us. It gave Bevan the chance to take ownership of his third Olympic campaign."
Docherty has maintained a sound record since the split, with a 12th at the world triathlon series event in Sydney (which eventually saw his Olympic selection confirmed) and eighth at the most recent race in San Diego (which helped guarantee New Zealand three Olympic spots). Those results indicate that, at 35 years old, he can still handle himself against most of the field. Hamish Carter was 33 when he won in Athens and Canadian Simon Whitfield was 33 when he beat Docherty to silver at Beijing.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's third-ranked woman Nicky Samuels was racing for her Olympic place overnight at the world triathlon series race in Madrid. It was the final chance for athletes to earn points and secure top eight status among the best nations in the sport and consequently three spots on the start line in London. The formula is complicated, with New Zealand seventh, Germany eighth and Switzerland ninth heading into the race.
A good race from the Germans would see them pass New Zealand, leaving Switzerland as the key threat. As a general gauge, Samuels needed to stay within about five places of their third-ranked athlete Daniela Ryf.
With three spots already guaranteed for London, no Kiwi men were on the start line. They are all continuing their Olympic preparations elsewhere.