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PROTRACK » GENERAL »  Steffensen & Ross selection furore to force AA policy rethink

Steffensen & Ross selection furore to force AA policy rethink

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John Steffensen selection furore to force AA policy rethink

by: Glenda Korporaal
From:The Australian
July 27, 2012

ATHLETICS Australia is expected to review its selection policies after the London Olympics following attacks on the process by the outspoken 400m runner John Steffensen and sprinter Josh Ross for not being selected to run in their individual events.

The chairman of selectors for Athletics Australia, Dion Russell, said yesterday that it would be "only normal" for the sport to see what "lessons for the future" there were from the London Olympics.

"For track and field the Olympics is the pinnacle of the sport. It is natural for the sport to sit back afterwards and have a look and see how it went," he said.

Russell was speaking from Canberra after Steffensen and Ross had publicly berated AA for its selection policies in a press conference at the team camp in Tonbridge, south of London, with Ross declaring that the selectors had no "common sense."

Steffensen lashed out at the chef de mission Nick Green for some of his comments. Rather than being cautioned by AA for his weeks of outspoken comments and threats to pull out of the 4x400m because his teammate, Steven Solomon, 19, was selected for the one spot in the individual 400m available to Australia, Steffensen was rewarded yesterday by team coach Eric Hollingsworth, who appointed him to captain the relay.

Their comments, which followed threats first by Steffensen and more recently Ross to boycott their respective relay teams, capped off an extraordinary few weeks that have left AA reeling.

The federation was publicly overruled by the Australian Olympic Committee when it refused to select US-based steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze when she ran the Olympic qualifying time only days after an AA cut-off date.

After announcing that it would not extend its cut-off date to accommodate LaCaze, it was forced to backflip after AOC president John Coates declared that he wanted her to be on the team.

Hollingsworth appears to be working hard to accommodate the volatile Steffensen, who will play a key role in the 4x400m team, which is an outside chance of a medal.

As team coach, Hollingsworth is focused on doing whatever it takes to win as many medals as possible, working behind the scenes to mollify Steffensen, whom others believe has been far too outspoken with his comments. The problem has arisen as Ross, Steffensen and Solomon have not run the Olympic A qualifying time for their events, but all have run the lower B qualifying standard.

Under IAAF rules, if a country has no A qualifiers in an event, it can nominate one athlete only who has done a B qualifying time.

AA has it clearly written into its policies that, in these situations, it retains the right to make the decision on which athlete it might nominate to an event with a B qualifying time or not to nominate any athlete if it feels no one has strong form in the event.

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