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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Steffensen accuses of AA of racism, but now back in the running for the Individual 400m

Steffensen accuses of AA of racism, but now back in the running for the Individual 400m

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John Steffensen fires another verbal tirade at Athletics Australia

by: Scott Gullan, Adrian Ballantyne
Herald Sun
July 13, 2012

JOHN Steffensen has accused Athletics Australia of racism after being overlooked for an individual 400m spot at the Olympic Games.

The Commonwealth Games champion last night launched a Twitter attack after rising teenage star Steve Solomon was given the only available position.

And he did not let up this morning, appearing on Channel 9 and accusing AA of discriminating against him.

"I've put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams," Steffensen said.

"You know it'd help if I was different colour, then a lot of decisions with my federation would be totally different, but I've never brought that up, I've always kept quiet on that."

"But it is the fact, it's the way it is, but I live with it and I keep running and I keep representing my country and I keep winning Australian trials."

Steffensen last night  vented his anger on Twitter suggested he might withdraw from the Games, giving up his position in the 4x400m relay team.

"I dnt want no handouts cause I didn't earn my spot!! But if they put another ath ahead of me then I'm pulling out the games!!," he tweeted.

It was always going to be a tough decision for the AA selectors as Steffensen and Solomon both had B-standard qualifying times, but had failed to run the A-standard which would have guaranteed selection.

Steffensen defeated Solomon in the Olympic trial in March before getting injured in the final of the Stawell Gift, with that hamstring injury coming back to haunt his London preparation.

While he has struggled, 19-year-old Solomon has excelled and won a bronze medal at the world junior championships in Barcelona yesterday in a personal-best time of 45.52sec - just 0.22sec outside the A-standard time.

Steffensen received confirmation of his non-selection via email from AA chairman of selectors Dion Russell.

The 29-year-old again indicated this morning he was reconsidering his future after the Games snub.

"Do you think I do this for fun? You think I waste my time running at training for fun? For this? No, they can have athletics, I don't need to do this no more, I'm happy with my life," he said.

"I followed the rules, I run trials, I win trials, I didn't make the qualification. You never heard of me this last six months. I didn't say nothing. I was going to run the relay and go home and do the right thing by the sport."

"So now I'm saying something because they're not doing the right thing by me and at age 30 and the amount of years and effort I've put into the sport and the medals and everything I've done for the sport, I deserve a little bit of respect."

There are many who are predicting Solomon could become one of the best 400m runners in the world.

"This kid is a gun," leading coach Nic Bideau said.

Former Olympian and Channel 9 commentator David Culbert hasn't ruled out Solomon being a factor in London.

"He certainly has all the goods to make the final, he's that good," he said.

Solomon was defeated by the Dominion Republic's Luguelin Santos, who has won a number of races on the European circuit this year and, despite only being 18, is considered a medal threat in London.

Steffensen, who turns 30 next month, has never been selected for an individual 400m berth at the Olympics even though he has been to the past two Games as a member of the 4x400m relay team.

Last edited by Admin on Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:04 am; edited 1 time in total

Running Man

ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
Bit of a tricky situation. It's hard to select Steffensen for the individual 400m since he's somewhat gone backwards since the trials whilst Solomon has only improved. It shows Solomon is ready to perform at the Olympics and we wouldn't be sure what Steffensen pulls out at the time. Based on his runs earlier this year I would have thought a selection is in order but now that he's on par with a few of the other guys it wouldn't be fair to pick him.

That said I'm really not sure what the point of our trials is, and especially being in March. March form isn't indicative of a whole lot in an Olympic year and winning them apparently doesn't mean anything either. Nick Symmonds earlier this year was being written off by many people yet at the recent US trials he dominated and ran a 1.43 800m.

I'm glad Solomon did get selected for an individual spot though. He always seems to be improving and I look forward to seeing what he can do.

I haven't kept up with too many results recently, excuse me if Steffensen has been running faster than I thought.


Steffensen has a good case and is hard done by. Won trials, Solomon was 3rd, what's the point of the Trials if 3rd gets preferred ove the winner?
But Steffensen is a silly boy for raising up the race card. Thats 100% wrong. Steffs last run was 46.45. Solomons was 45.52. Selectors put Solomon in on current form. Nothing to do with racial discrimination.

The fairest thing was to pick neither, like Steffensen said. No A qualifier so no-one gets a spot.

Ross, Manou, McCabe, Renshaw must be all scratching their heads. Ran B qualifiers AND won The Trial, and don't get picked.

Poor judgement again No by selectors.


Steffensen to compete in London Olympics

Sky News,
Monday July 16, 2012

Olympic sprinter John Steffensen will compete at the London Games, after a sensational back-flip by Athletics Australia.

The outspoken runner has launched a scathing attack on selectors, after Steve Solomon was chosen ahead of him for the individual 400 metres.

He accused them of racial vilification and threatened to pull out of the relay team.

In a dramatic twist, Athletics Australia selectors will now wait up until 24 hours before the race to decide who will run.


Read more:

Steffensen back in running for 400 metres berth

By Will Brodie
Sydney Morning Herald
July 16, 2012

John Steffensen after winning the 400m at the Sydney Track Classic in February this year. Photo: Danielle Smith

Outspoken runner John Steffensen could yet win an individual berth in the 400 metres at the London Olympics after a reported backflip from Athletics Australia.

The Nine Network's Today Show reported this morning that Steffenson had received notification he had been listed as a provisional runner alongside 19-year-old Steve Solomon, which meant a decision on which runner received the one available individual berth could come as late as 24 hours before the event in London.

The choice will be based on "recent results, form and fitness".

At the weekend, Steffensen threatened to quit the 4x400 metre relay team after Solomon was chosen as Australia’s representative in the individual event. Steffensen defeated Solomon at the Australian Olympic trials, but neither runner achieved an 'A' qualifying time, and Steffensen said no Australian had earned a place in the event at the Olympics.

At the World Junior Athletic Championships overnight in Barcelona, Solomon anchored the Aussie team which finished fourth, narrowly missing a bronze medal.

Solomon, who won a bronze medal in the individual 400m at the championships, brought the boy's team in at 3:06.58, just 0.26 behind third-placed Trinidad and Tobago.

Steffensen told SEN radio this morning that he had no choice but to protest the opriginal decision via the media, as athletes had no other recourse to dispute selection decisions.



'AA ignore racism,' says John Steffensen in a fresh attack today

By Nick Smart
Herald Sun
July 16, 2012

JOHN Steffensen has continued his verbal attack on Athletics Australia, accusing it of ignoring racial discrimination complaints.

Steffensen launched a tirade on Saturday after being overlooked for an individual 400m spot at the Olympic Games.

The Commonwealth Games champion has threatened to boycott London after rising teenage star Steve Solomon was given the only available slot.

He showed no signs of backing down this morning, launching a fresh tirade on the Nine Network's Today Show.

"It was unfortunate all the media grabbed was that I said I wasn't picked because of my skin colour," Steffensen said this morning.

"That is so naive and so ignorant for people to think that way.

"But this has happened to me - yes, I have been called names on teams and officials have abused me racially.

"Yes, I told my lawyers and got letters sent to AA to deal with this and it's never been dealt with."

Steffensen accused AA of ignoring racism in the sport.

"Never ever have I got a letter back," he said.

"If it happening in AFL, and I commend the AFL for dealing with it, and the NRL then why do people think it is not happening in athletics?"

AA chief executive Dallas O'Brien was quick to slam the allegation.

"I'm certainly not aware (of that)," he told Fox Sports News.

"I know there have been some general comments made, but there has been no proof or any specific situations.

"I've been in this position for two years now and certainly nothing has happened in that time."

The national sporting body confirmed on Friday night that Solomon was the only runner eligible to run the 400m despite neither he or Steffensen meeting the automatic qualifying time of 45.3sec.

"Unfortunately our sport does not have a players association where we can go and sort these things out," Steffensen said today.

"When I did try to go to Dallas (O'Brien) before I went to the media, he was on holiday when I needed him the most.

"And our high performance manager was gagged and told he couldn't speak to the media about selection, so we didn't have a leader who could have helped me in the situation.

"I only received an email saying I wasn't in with no explanation."

But a defiant O'Brien accused Steffensen of being "irrational."

"Our high performance manager has had close association with John the whole way along," he said.

"Unfortunately there was only one person who could be selected and the selectors took it on current form," he said.

"As I said to him on Saturday morning, he's being irrational.

"John has a great domestic season in Australia and ran brilliantly, but unfortunately he tore his hamstring at the Stawell Gift and hasn't been able to regain form."


I get the feeling a lot of people are afraid to speak out against Steffensen, in case he rips into them.

So thankfuly AA CEO Dallas O'Brien offers some common sense to the argument.

I love guys with personality and who stick up for their rights, but it has to be measured and have a degree of substance to it.

Steffensen is a brilliant athlete, but sadly is a loose cannon with a loose mouth. To drag up racial vilification is ludicrous. If AA was racist how did Eric Hollingsworth become head coach?....and of course Keith Connor (another Englishman of African descent) was head coach back in the 1990's.

Steff has a strong case based on AA's selection policy, which initially he articulated well on Channel Nine yesterday. BUT he has damaged it immeasurably with his stupid irrational rants about the colour of his skin. That's an insult to a lot of good people who have bent over backwards to help him out.

He has been asked several times for an example of where he has been racially abused or vilified and has yet to offer one single example. Just a lot of general accusations to try and paint himself as a victim.

Maybe the selection of Solomon is the 'karma' bus knocking him over after his "murder the little boys" comment earlier this year when he beat Solomon.

As much as Steffensen can be compulsory viewing and a drawcard whenever he competes (He definitely lit up the 2012 Stawell Gift with his scintillating semi final...) at some stage his antics become too distracting and we are probably better off without him.

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