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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Athletics Australia's B-line to common sense

Athletics Australia's B-line to common sense

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Athletics Australia's B-line to common sense

Jamie Pandaram
The Daily Telegraph
October 26, 2012

A NEW selection policy by Athletics Australia, where B-qualified athletes would be in the squad for next year's world championships in Russia, could remain for the 2016 Olympics.

Fierce critic Tamsyn Manou has welcomed the move and challenged AA to retain the policy for Rio, given the furore surrounding the lack of selection of a number of stars for individual events in London this year because only those with A-qualifier standards were considered.

And it seems the cries have been heeded, with AA's chairman of selectors, Dion Russell, saying the policy appears set to remain in place for the Rio Games.

"Athletics Australia wants a new, fresh approach which is more inclusive and provides opportunities and has a bit more flexibility for athletes," Russell said.

"The impression I'm getting from the Athletics Australia board is that this is the way they would like to go for the next four-year cycle."

There was a similar selection policy inclusive of B-qualified athletes in 2009 which was scrapped before this year's Olympics, leading to the controversial omissions of Manou and Josh Ross from major events, while Genevive LaCaze earned a late reprieve after initially being left out.

"I think this selection policy is one that should be implemented all the time and I challenge Athletics Australia to ensure that it does," Manou said.

"I remain sceptical because the same people who saw it scrapped after 2009 are still in charge now.

"We had Josh Ross in the Olympic village ready to run in the blue riband event, the men's 100m final, and they didn't pick him to run.

"I think this is a positive step forward, and I hope the athletes will see this new criteria and stick with their sports. So many athletes have left because of the qualifying standards in place."

Ross remains frustrated that he was overlooked for the Olympic 100m finals.

"The Athletics All Stars are looking for Australia's fastest man, but if I was given the opportunity (in London) they wouldn't need to look because I would have shown them it is me," Ross said. "All I can put it down to is that there was something personal going on."

Russell acknowledged the Olympics drama had been intense and hoped the new policy - which allows three candidates with A- or B-qualifying standards to be named for each event (marathon will have five) - will make it easier for athletes.

"The feedback we received was that the previous policy was quite ambiguous," Russell said. "One athlete would read it one way and another would read it another way."

A newcomer to the organisation, Melissa Babbage, has been credited by athletics insiders for her role in the overhaul of the previous policy.

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