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Emotion and anger as Olympic dreams die

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Ollie Williams | 10:35 UK time, Friday, 22 June 2012

Taekwondo has given Team GB its highest-profile selection drama yet ahead of a home Olympics, but the same scenes are playing out across many sports.

Britain will send a huge number of athletes to London 2012 but, for each athlete picked, others must tell family, friends and sponsors that they did not make it.

All the recent grief over Olympic selection has been well-publicised, chiefly world number one Aaron Cook's omission from the GB taekwondo team, leading some to wonder why things are so much worse this year than before any other Games.

In some respects, they aren't. Appeals are a fact of life ahead of any Olympics but this year's have gained more coverage because a home Games is on the horizon, which also accounts for the fact that some of the battles are more bitterly contested: the prize is that much greater, both psychologically and financially with sponsors showing great interest in sports they would never normally touch.

Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook (right) was controversially not selected by British Taekwondo. Photo: Getty

"Normally, it's not as public as it is now," agrees Liz Nicholl, the chief executive of UK Sport. Nicholl and her colleagues distribute the millions of pounds in funding to each of Britain's Olympic sports teams, so they take an interest in every selection decision made to see where their money goes. UK Sport even invests in Sport Resolutions, the independent body designed to oversee selection appeals.

"This is very high-profile and it's a difficult one - many of the sports we're talking about don't have a huge number of professionals working with them to manage the circumstances that evolve around this, particularly with media interest. It's difficult for the athletes and a very emotive time for them."

Host-nation places are where things most frequently turn sour. At the Olympics the hosts are always given many more places than usual as a reward for staging the Games. The problem is, the athletes going for these places are the ones who did not reach the Olympics on merit (otherwise they wouldn't need them) - so subjective decisions must be made, and arguments ensue.

"We had been told that if we were going to the Olympics, we would get a phone call on the Friday morning - and if not, we wouldn't," says fencer Jon Willis, who was relying on a host-nation place in the men's epee tournament for his ticket to London 2012.

"I was travelling to Stockholm for a competition that weekend, so I had my phone turned off on the flight on Friday morning.

"I got there, turned my phone on, and no message had been left. It was heartbreak in the baggage reclaim hall."

Willis has now announced his retirement, after an unsuccessful appeal in which he argued that British Fencing performance director Alex Newton had been biased against him.

The two have not had the easiest relationship and Willis felt that, even though he did not reach the Games on merit, his record outshone those of several fencers selected ahead of him.

"For 12 months, for me, it's been clear that I was never in the plans. I was dropped from funding a year ago," he says.

"Alex Newton never made any attempt to get to know me. She never bothered coming to visit me [at a training centre in Germany] to see what I do, she never asked to see my training diary, she couldn't tell you anything about me.

"It's like I was discarded from the very start and I'll never understand that. But [at the appeal] how do you prove someone has it in for you? You can't do it. I've got my opinions and I'm sure she's got hers, but she'll deny it every time. 'I've got no problem with Jon, I put the data to the selectors.' What can I say to that?"

That is, indeed, exactly how Newton - who joined British Fencing at the start of 2011 - sees it. She has had more than Willis to deal with, too. Five fencers have launched unsuccessful appeals and an online forum has been alive with criticism of her panel's Olympic selections, particularly young sabre fencer Sophie Williams, picked ahead of the more experienced Jo Hutchison.

Last month, The Times ran an article in which it was suggested Williams may owe her selection to her father being a prominent sponsor of the sport in Britain.

"I'm really sad for Sophie," says Newton, "for the negative press and comments about her. We should be celebrating a 21-year-old, someone for the future, who could perform as well as any of the other athletes.

"I'm not surprised people are disappointed that some athletes were not selected, but I am surprised they are taking it out on other athletes. Is it Sophie's fault? No. Has it knocked her confidence? Wouldn't it knock yours if you had a half-page spread in The Times saying your dad bought your place?

"I went on the forum and had a read of it. In the job I've got, you've got to develop a very, very thick skin. I don't like being called some of the names but it comes with the territory."

Host-nation places aren't the only source of rancour. Lucy Hall knows how Sophie Williams feels even though she competes in triathlon, a sport in which Britain earned its six places at the Games on merit alone.

But the selectors could still decide who from the squad took up those places and Hall, 20, was picked ahead of several contenders with much more experience of top-level triathlon.

British Triathlon wanted Hall to do a specific job. Her fast swim and strong skills on the bike make her an ideal candidate to perform as a domestique to GB's world number one, Helen Jenkins, helping Jenkins to victory.

"They made it very clear that I would be going to the Games to help Helen," she says. "I know I'm not a fast enough runner to go individually."

News of the selectors' phone calls to various triathletes soon leaked out online, while some of those involved confronted each other during training. Not everyone felt Hall had earned her place.

"It's controversial and some people aren't happy about it but unfortunately none of the other girls hit the selection criteria and I'm there to do a job," says Hall.

"I think they are fantastic athletes, and it's a really difficult situation - they are very upset. I can sympathise with that. Hopefully nobody has taken it personally, they know I'm not the head of selection. Sport is cruel, it really is."

Will Clarke was one of the triathletes overlooked. He feels he had comfortably marked himself out as the third-best male triathlete in Britain behind the all-conquering Brownlee brothers (GB receives three triathlon places per gender at the Games), but Stuart Hayes was selected as the Brownlees' domestique instead.

Clarke's argument is that he and other leading triathletes have given their careers towards reaching London 2012 but have had scant reward for years at the top level. He feels the selection policy set the bar unrealistically high and, when none of GB's second-tier triathletes cleared it, unfairly handed the likes of Hall a chance without proving themselves on the world stage.

He was with top female GB triathlete Liz Blatchford when both received the calls to say they would not make the team.

"Liz was really upset and so was [fellow triathlete] Jodie Stimpson," recalls Clarke. "I think they feel they've been screwed over a bit, pretty betrayed. I'm sure Lucy Hall is the most fortunate Olympian out there.

"It was pretty emotional. There were a few tears kicking around. The goalposts kept on getting moved as to what I had to do to qualify, it was a really bad system. The team was basically picked around the Brownlees and Helen Jenkins and we had no chance to qualify in our own right, it was made too hard."

Now, Clarke and several similarly overlooked colleagues are planning to strike out for the Ironman triathlon circuit, largely based in the United States, as something to take their minds off their Olympic disappointment. Clarke says he could come back for Rio 2016, but only if he knows he has a strong chance of selection.

"I think relationships within British triathlon will be a bit rough and there'll be a lot of bitchiness out there," says Clarke. "It will change things, it will be hard for a while."

For Willis, the journey is over and he is finding it hard not to hold a grudge.

"I can't be two-faced about it," he says. "I can't be nice to somebody who I think has ended my fencing career and stamped out my dream. I can do my best to be civil, but why would I want to spend any more time than I have to?

"I think this will be a divided GB team. I hope it won't be, I hope somehow we'll all be friends, but this was always going to be the problem. I don't see how it can be a happy camp."

Newton defends the process and looks ahead. "The winners are obviously happy and the losers are obviously unhappy, but we have a genuine agreement that we need to work together and support each other," she concludes.

"I've always said host-nation places would be a double-edged sword with so much at stake. We could easily get sidetracked by the noise and distractions, and lose focus. It's been a tough time.

"Come Rio 2016, there won't be host-nation places: you qualify on merit, or you don't go. These places are gifts to athletes who have not qualified, and it's a home Games - any athlete wants to go. Don't we all?"

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Aaron Cook should be there, it is a disgrace and an utter joke. I hope the other guy fails big time.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's not the 'other guy's' (Lutalo Muhammad's) fault. I think it's disgraceful how he has been treated by a large amount of the public and press. Why would you want him to fail? He's worked hard all his life to be selected and I hope he does fantastically. As you don't even know his name I'm assuming you no very little about taekwondo so how can you say it's a disgrace that he was selected?

  • Comment number 3.

    the problem we have is that all the slelection appeals etc seem to be behind closed doors so we the public do not understand the reasoning behind them, so when we see a headline that world number 1 has been dropped in favour of world number 59 it looks as if the world has gone crazy which it probably has and yet the decison was not overturned on appeal why? why? why? For triathlon the brownlees seem to work as a team anyway so why they need a domestique is beyond me. There will always be contentious decisions but places should be awarded on Merit only so the best person goes per sport look at athletics qualifying times and trials no arguments that shoul dbe the case across the board

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice blog but the really controversial selections have had nothing to do with "host nation places". The BG triathlon team earned their three places as a team and the team was chosen around those who earned their individual involvement.

    The whole aaron cook situation has nothing to do with host nation places either. Surely he would have earned his place on merit?

    Also, its debatable as to wether or not host nations should have extra places. If you don't qualify by your own merit then why should you deserve to be there?

  • Comment number 5.

    With all selection processes the best way is to set out the criteria early and be objective.

    I can fully understand the triathlon selection but not why the criteria were not set out early.

    I know nothing about fencing but something looks wrong there.

    As for taekwando, what a mess. Again I know virtually nothing about the sport, but I do know a lot about boxing. In boxing you might select someone to compete in a higher weight than they normally box at but you not at a lower weight unless they had proved they can handle it in the ring in real fights for at least a 10 day stretch. As an outsider, it looks really bad and has a definite smell about it

  • Comment number 6.

    The issue is simple, really - if an athlete failed to make the qualifying standard, his/her place in the team was at risk. I can understand the frustration, but if they'd made the grade there wouldn't have been a choice.

    In some sports there isn't a hard and fast grade, like in Taekwondo. There, Cook took a risk by leaving the team camp and training alone. He knew it was a risk, and knew he would have to dominate so clearly that he left the selectors no choice. But then he didn't, beating Mohamad once and losing once, while both men won one ranking tournament. Seems to me that leaves the selectors a genuine headache. One man was always going to lose out from there, sadly.

  • Comment number 7.

    British Triathlon have adopted an absolutely discraceful selection policy, they are more concerned with funding cuts and losing their jobs than taking all the sacrifices the athletes that have lost out have made over the last 4 years. Why not adopt a first 3 past the post policy in a national champs and then there would no arguments.

  • Comment number 8.

    olly, I think that you're blogg misses the point a little, as you have give Triathlon, all places on merit and taekwondo, again merit as examples. The selections when based subjectively(like any other Olympics for us) will always cause these issues, even more heightened because its on our doorstep.
    It's a bit like work, I am of a similar standard to the others in the office, but work really well with my boss, so I got the promotion. I am happy, but the others aren't. if we win medals the fuss will go away, if we don't it will rise again.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    1, 2 and 3 - Lutalo Muhammed is only 59 in the world at the Olympic weight -80Kg (he barely fights at this weight), he fights generally at -87Kg which is not an Olympic weight Class. He is currently ranked 7 in the world at -87kg class, and is the current European Champion. He has beaten Aaron Cook, although he has also lost to him twice as well, so this is an incredibly tough choice between two excellent fighters. In my view Aaron Cook deserves it because its his more natural weight, however I will be supporting Lutalo wholeheartedly now he has the place.

  • Comment number 11.

    Really feel for the Arron Cook lad. World number 1, and he can't even get a place on merit. Surely something has to be wrong with that? I find it odd that if you need three places for an event, why you don't just pick the top 3 athletes available, either on world/domestic ranking? Selection policy in a lot sports can throw up surprises. Jordan Henderson anyone.....!?!

  • Comment number 12.

    My amazement is around the fact that the sports have received lottery funding through UK Sport, and as such should have transparent selection procedures in place.

    The local village hall could not get away with such ambiguity; the sports and the Olympics ultimately suffer, why because the value of the olympics is deminished when atheletes start to think of taking other events instead.

  • Comment number 13.

    Of course Lutalo Muhammed deserves our support - he is not at fault for the selectors being spiteful over Arron Cook's decision to be world number one DESPITE them, not because of them.

    But if Muhammed does fail, will any of the GB Taekwondo selectors face any music? Of course not.

    Hopefully a record is being kept of all the controversial selections and, should those selections backfire, those who made the decisions without ever having to explain themselves should be publicly held to account.

  • Comment number 14.

    the triathlon selections are based on an unproven premise...domestiques do not work well and Lucy Hall has not got the experience or cycling skills to do the job. the one time it was trialled Helen Jenkins ended up 6th! at no time has Lucy Hall ever raced liz blatchford, deliberately according to her coach, because LB would have beaten her. Stuart Hayes at least has some pedigree at the top level, though recently Will Clarke has proved just as good and is a better overall competitor. Note also that the appeals process had nothing independent about it....the same selectors heard closed door appeals with NO athlete representation...how can that be fair to professional athletes who have spent years developing their skills and helped to guarantee the UK 3 male and 3 female places.....twisted logic!

  • Comment number 15.

    Aaron Cook being selected in a class he has no proven track record in would be like Andy Murray being selected for the badminton team, just because he can hold a racquet.

  • Comment number 16.

    post 13, Dave I am sure there are people in the press and the relevant sports keeping a very close eye on the performance of the "surprise" choices.

    I am not a keen follower of the triathlon and my only knowledge of taekwondo is when it comes around at the Olympics so perhaps I am not in the best position to comment but the taekwondo decision does seem to lack any logic at all.

    It seems to be more down to Cook's falling out with the authorities than merit. The irony is of course if Muhammed fails and the rest of the taekwondo team struggle there will be massive funding cuts and some of those who kept Cook out could lose their jobs.

  • Comment number 17.

    It is true that the Brownlees don't need a domestic but I still think Hayes is a good choice to go as he has won races from the front (making a break on the bike) which is a different tactic to that employed by most in the field. Because drafting is allowed on the bike ITU races usually end up as a 10K running race with nearly all the athletes entering T2 together. Hayes making a break on the bike could help Ali and Jonny and it is possible he could create enough of a gap for himself to stay ahead on the run. As for Hall in the womens event, Jenkins does not have the dominance of the Brownlees so could use the help of a domestique. As she is clearly our best medal chance why not give her all the help we can? As many have said before, bring home gold and the BTF will be forgiven.

  • Comment number 18.

    CranleighEagle - I totally agree re selection decisions being made in private, although some of that is legal. GB Taekwondo has certainly said it previously couldn't clarify its selections for legal reasons with appeals ongoing. However, somebody needs to sort that out then rather than sports hiding behind/being bound by that in future. Transparency would be a huge help, especially when the decision seems bizarre on the face of it, as Cook's omission did.

    williamp78 - It depends. Any selection is "really controversial" if you're the one left out and you think you should've been picked, just ask Jon Willis. Yes, Aaron Cook's is the big one on paper but every sport has its internal logic and politics and so forth, and Willis feels just as neglected as Cook does - rightly or wrongly, depending on your point of view.

    The Cook issue is that one person can go, there were two candidates, and GB Taekwondo felt the "merit" belonged to Muhammad. I can't comment on whether that's correct or not because there's been more than enough written about it by far more qualified brains than mine. Dr Steve Peters, the psychologist most noted for his work with British Cycling, was in on the selection meetings and pronounced himself satisfied with the outcome, and I feel like his opinion is worth noting, but without being in the room I can't argue for either case (nor is it my place).

    The triathlon didn't have to do with host-nation places, but then I didn't say it did - I was using that as a counter-example, when places earned by Britain on merit (as a nation) still create selection dramas.

    I also have sympathy with what you say about host-nation places but I can see why they're awarded and I can see why nobody is ever going to turn them down. That's a dicey road to go down because if you scratch host-nation places, you then look at most Olympic qualification systems and find they allow one, maybe two per country, thereby losing a massive number of excellent participants because countries hit their quota, while allowing inferior athletes from under-represented countries to compete. So others who ought to be there on merit don't make it, and then you'd be changing one of the fundamental philosophies of the Games, which is to encourage the broadest global participation possible. If the Games were filled entirely on merit they'd look very, very different to the way they do now, and not purely because of host-nation places.

    bengate - I agree with all of that.

    shiveringonyerbike - I disagree. The six triathlon places at the Games were earned on merit by Britain but the individual places were not all distributed according to performance or results. They were explicitly awarded with a clear strategy in mind, and triathletes with certain talents were preferred to those with better world-level results and experience.

    Taekwondo wasn't my other main example - I referenced it briefly as it's the best-known of these selection debates but the other main example was fencing, and that example was based entirely on the awarding of a host-nation place. Merit did come into that, but in weighing up various different fencing disciplines and Jon Willis's Olympic prospects versus those of others, the selection panel were making what could only ever be a subjective call.

    I do however entirely agree with your last sentence, and was discussing this with the British Triathlon staff earlier this afternoon - who know that's how they will be judged.

    Dave - Actually, I think if Muhammad does struggle at the Games, the selectors will feel the heat. There's been enough media attention now that if Muhammad makes an early exit (and I feel for him on this front) the proverbial will hit the fan in that sport. His results will be very closely watched. If he does well, that'll make it all the more impressive.

  • Comment number 19.

    I know nothing about taekwondo apart from I have read in the papers. Aaron Cook appears to have been very unlucky not to have been selected, but comment 1 is pathetic. How can you hope that an athlete fails. It is not Lutalo's fault that he has been selected. If I do watch the taekwondo I will certainly be cheering for him in the same way that I would support any Team GB athlete.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm a keen cyclist and the way that the road cycling team is selected is a match of those talents that will best support the guy chosen to go for gold, these are the cycling domestiques who control race pace, shelter people from the wind, give their bikes up if their team leader has a mechanical.

    I don't for the life of me see how domestiques work in triathlons and have to question the merit of selecting anyone to act in that role in a triathlon as I don't see their role as anyway equivalent to how this works in cycling.

    The point made by Ollie Williams that Dr Stephen Peters was an eye opener for me. He is someone who's views and expertise has to be respected but I must admit that if you're World No.1, I don't understand how you wouldn't be selected unless you'd really peed someone off in the hierarchy.

    Don't know enough to comment on fencing.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Olympic selection is now a more professional system designed around winning medals.

    If we have three athletes ranked 60th, 70th and 80th in the world and one slot left it is likely that none of these would win a medal. The lowest placed athlete may have the best future prospects however and the experience of an olympic games be of greater benefit for a medal in 4 years time. the other two athletes would be dissapointed but there are many selection criteria like this being applied.

    Look at the massive improvements with team Sky / GB in cycling where a whole team is picked to get Mark Cavendish the gold at the last world championships and hopefully again at this olympics.

    Like it or not big funding and sponsorshipb demands results and as a result the sort of decisions some people are complaining about.

    that said still don't see any reason for Aaron Cooke ommission

  • Comment number 23.

    Surely the reason for the anger, emotion and number of appeals has got to be down to the fact that since we won the right to host the games in 2005 the hype and publicity has been ever increasing to a crescendo.
    Now with virtually every ad break on tv having at least one "Olympic partner" advertising; the torch relay getting so much publicity along with every paper having several pages on the Olympics plus ads featuring Olympians those not chosen fear they have missed their chance at the golden eggs the Olympic goose is laying.

    For many competing in the Olympics on home soil in front of friends and family has been what has sustained them through the last few years of training.

  • Comment number 24.

    The way to stop most of this would be no host nation places at all and the whole team including team sports haveing to qualify by right. Do I think its good for the country to watch the womens Handball team being beaten 30-0 no I don't? That should be the case for whoever hosts the games. Great Britain is good enough to qualify in most Olympic sports we don't need handouts.

  • Comment number 25.

    Why doesn't Aaron Cook represent another country, sure Iran would happily let him represent them

  • Comment number 26.

    Ollie: the idea that selection policies and decisions cannot be publicised because of "legal" reasons is nonsense. Those are exactly the issues that any legal case would require to be disclosed. The inevitable conclusions that the general public will draw is either:

    1. The relevant sporting body wants to publish an "adapted" version of the policies and decisions to justify their decision to the public but knows that the actual truth will ultimately come out in court in which case they will look even bigger fools; or

    2. If they published the actual decision process then it would show clear bias and they are trying to hide this for as long as possible until too late for sportsman to overturn decision.

    Neither conclusion is pleasant.

    The solution is simple, ignore the lawyers. If the governing bodies have nothing to hide then publish. By doing so I can see the reasoning and as long as it does not demonstrate clear bias, I and I suspect most of the public will back the governing body.
    .
    Without publishing the decision all we the public have is two examples of two different sports where someone who is part of a cosy British training system (an insider) is chosen over what appears a better qualified outsider. it just looks wrong, even if it is not

  • Comment number 27.

    1000 posts and 100,000 views on the fencing forum thread about this and Alex Newton plays it down as just name calling. In reality, she's ignoring the questions being asked about her selections.

    http://www.fencingforum.com/forum/showthread.php?16535-Guess-the-Wildcards/page26

  • Comment number 28.

    Seems like Aaron Cook has succeeded in his sport in spite of the people who control it in team GB and not because of their efforts. I wonder why he's politically unpopular ?
    Triathlon is an individual sport ,first and foremost. A team sport second.

    Alex Newton has minimal experience with fencing but more with finance which embarassingly will probably mean no medals for our fencing team but she will probably find fresh finance to support her office before next year.

    I suggest any GB sports management who abuse their responsibility by operating a strategy that does not win a Gold medal resigns and tries their luck at another occupation (to which they think they may be better suited).

  • Comment number 29.

    Re the Brownlees not needing a domestique.

    Last year at the European Championships Alistair Brownlee had a bike problem. Once his bike was fixed he was towed back to the lead pack that Jonny was doing his best to slow. It is likely Jonny would have won but that was last year, times change and who is to say the other competitors will allow Jonny to slow the pack again, especially if it were to make life easier for him and Alistair.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have not read all of the responses but I truly believe that we have lost our backbone.
    Just like the Track trials this weekend a simple solution would be for Aaron Cook to have a head to head fight with Muhammed within the next couple of weeks Winner to take the place. Very Simple if I was Muhammed I think I would even suggest this to prove that he is the better of the two.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Ollie: the idea that selection policies and decisions cannot be publicised because of "legal" reasons is nonsense."

    To true. If you go onto the British Triathlon website or even those of the American and Canadian association the policies are there for all to see including in each case the selectors reserving the right to select domestiques.

  • Comment number 32.

    If sports governing bodies are in receipt of public money then the really do need to have transparant selection policies IMO. UK Sport must insist on this going forward.

    Having said that I'm not sure I totally agree with Will Clark's views bout British Triathlon changing the goalposts - whether you agree with the use of domestiques or not there was talk of this going back to last summer.

  • Comment number 33.

    The best water polo player in Britain Scott Carpenter has been refused the opportunity to train with the GB Squad for the past few years. He is one of the best in the world and streets ahead of the other players in GB, who will suffer some heavy defeats in London.

    Why has this not had more coverage? The gap between Carpenter and some of the current team is 10 times that between Cook and Muhammad. Outrageous really.

  • Comment number 34.

    Very good blog which gets to the heart of many of the issues - problem is there are lots of issues, and some which contradict each other, hence lots of debate/contradiction.

    With regard to these debates, I think that this comes back to one question. Are we investing in/selecting athletes to win medals, or just to go to the Olympics?

    Let's be totally honest, with the exception of Cook, there are almost no other athletes who are being left behind, who could reasonably argue they have a chance of winning anything, or probably even getting close. In fact, as the blog points towards, most of the athletes have never even qualified for an Olympics, and would not qualify for the next Olympics.

    The domestique issue flows from this. (and it's in no way personal, cause I think Will Clarke has handled himself pretty well - unlike Aaron Cook)

    Will Clarke - can you honestly win an Olympic medal? No. Can you/would you help either one of the Brownlees? (who definitely can win an Olympic medal) Probably not. End of discussion.

    Re: the fencers. Only 2 qualified by right. So don't get lulled into thinking that all these other characters are any good. They would be completely anonymous at London, and most of them are too old to do anything in the future. So, the team has picked some young fencers with potential. What's wrong with that?

    Finally, do people honestly think that any sport would sabotage itself by selecting someone who was not (based on opinions which are very, very often, ultimately subjective) the best on offer, just to prove some point? Doesn't wash with me.

  • Comment number 35.

    I would wish that Ollie Williams had widened his scope and had included *shooting* as another example of a sport that is currently marred by narrow-minded and hard-hearted selection decisions. He has so far only once addressed the shooting sports at all, over two years ago, in May 2010.

    British Shooting was given - as many other sports - a bouquet of quota places. The sports is struggling for its legal and political survival in Great Britain, and its athletes need every bit of publicity, exposure and media interest they can get.

    However, British Shooting would rather give back quota places to the ISSF and leave them unfilled, then nominate shooters who would not meet the arbitrarily high national selection limits ("MCS"), which are far far higher than the international Olympic qualification limits ("MQS"). This against the background that almost all shooters are self-funding or have small sponsors, and receive precious little financial support from their federation, and even less public funding.

    In fact, any shooter familiar with the performance levels within the UK and the extremely restricted training facilities (e.g. in pistol shooting, which has five Olympic disciplines), cannot help to realize that BS set the limit purposefully so high that they could predictably exclude most shooters except for the "politically and socially correct" shotgunners. It was a big distress to the decision takers that lady pistol shooter Gorgs Geikie - against their expectations - scored so well on her own, due to private funding and an amazing resilience, that she could not be denied the selection, as had been hoped.

    Presently, four (non-)selection decisions are being attacked and contested:
    - Two (male) Olympic rapidfire pistol shooters have made the MQS, but B.S. refused to select them, and would rather altogether hand back these host nation quota places to the ISSF - "we don't want them". Both shooters are soldiers.
    - The (male) free pistol shooter Mick Gault made it and hence could be nominated, but the B.S. argument was that he made the (high) national selection limit only in the discipline where there was no quota place, and in the other only achieved the international qualification limit.
    - No female air pistol shooter was given the host nation quota place, although there are two contenders who are demonstrably better than Gorgs Geikie, who now will double start.
    - Among the female trap shooters, Charlotte Kerwood was chosen over Abbey Burton, although the latter clearly ranks higher _and_ is younger. Both are world class. But Charlotte Kerwood is of better social standing, and she already receives BS funding. Abbey Burton finances herself, and is the "lowly" granddaughter of a gamekeeper; moreover she (how despicable!) gives clay shooting coaching lessons for money (!!) in order to support herself. Bah. That can certainly not be befitting of a gentleman or lady shooter, is it?!

  • Comment number 36.

    Triathlon is an INDIVIDUAL sport - NOT a team sport. The BT selectors have gone contrary to their own charter which states it is an individual sport. notwithstanding that, they then seemed to have followed differing rules for different triathletes and have no basis for comparison between the no 12 in the world Liz Blatchford (8th last world champs) and the no 100+ Lucy Hall. BT needs to improve its act by
    1/ stating clear definitive performance selection criteria for all spots - not wishy washy "we reserve the right" stuff,
    2/ having a transparent appeals process with athletes present to put their case - not legal mumbo jumbo,
    3/ clearly telling the athletes the same thing at all times - not whispers to some and not others

  • Comment number 37.

    Must be awful for those who aren't selected.

    I can't help but cite the objectionable differences between different sports in TeamGB. I watched a runner from Guernsey probably putting his life on the line trying - and failing - to achieve the Olympic Marathon qualifying time.

    In contrast, we all know Beckham will be chosen for the football squad for the most dubious of reasons, despite being nowhere near the best available.

  • Comment number 38.

    "Triathlon is an INDIVIDUAL sport - NOT a team sport."

    So at no time has Blatchford benefited from being in a pack on the bike ? Elite ITU triathlon hasn't been a truly individual effort since the late 90's since drafting was allowed. I have tried to keep my comments from being about any individual out of respect for Liz but as you are clearly intending to repeat Liz's comments from interviews these questions have to be asked.

    You mention Hall's rankings and then ignore Liz being 21st in last years. She is 15th in this years but then Olympic year rankings are always screwy because people become more selective about where they compete.

    More importantly how many times has Liz been on the podium in World Championship Series or World Triathlon Series races ? Hall has been selected to be a domestique so whether she is ranked 21st or 150th or whether Liz could beat her over the full distance is irrelevant if Hall is considered the better swim / biker.

    As for performance selection criteria being wishy washy it is clearly worded and was agreed to by the athletes when they signed up to be considered. If anything, since 2004 British Triathlon has probably had one of the most open selection policies of any of the sport's federations.

    re 2/ if any of the unselected athletes had shown the ability to be with and stay with the Brownlees and Jenkins in the same way the Russian men managed a 2-3-4 in Madrid then I think an appeal by the person who came 4th would have been upheld.

    Only you can know what 3/ means. If it relates to the selection of domestiques then everybody knew that was a possibility. That some people were being visibly selected in a number of races for that role should have been a clue.

    Now a couple of questions for Ollie. You mention how British Triathlon has said they know they will be judged on their selection. How will you judge them if the Brownlees, Jenkins and Holland do not medal bearing in mind the other athletes that could have been chosen. It would be easy to say they should have been selected but on what grounds do you think they would have done better.

    Secondly what would you have done in each selection process discussed ?

  • Comment number 39.

    Must be awful for those who aren't selected.

    I can't help but cite the objectionable differences between different sports in TeamGB. In this year's London Marathon I watched a runner from Guernsey probably putting his life on the line trying - and failing - to achieve the Olympic Marathon qualifying time.

    In contrast, we all know Beckham will be chosen for the football squad for the most dubious of reasons, despite being nowhere near the best available.

  • Comment number 40.

    Re Fencing.....In the case of host nation places for those who didn`t qualify by right....and none of whom are likely to get a medal:-

    Perhaps using those places as a developmental/training experience for young talent rather than as a unique opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements of some of GBs top ranked fencers was bound to cause disquiet?

    Maybe the time for young talent to develop and gain their experience is the four years between Olympic Games, with these selected, funded and well supported young people qualifying by right if they are so good now?

    I read the forum threads and thought that Ms Newton seeming to dismiss the genuine unease voiced by those knowledgeable about fencing as "name calling" or the discussion surrounding the appeals of 5 of our top fencing athletes as causing "noise and distractions" ..........(all to be dealt with by having a thick skin)....gave an arrogant impression.

  • Comment number 41.

    Justin150 - Yes, much of the time I'm inclined to agree, although in some circumstances surrounding appeals I can see why we don't get every piece of information published. Lest we forget that the initial exchanges of fire surrounding Cook/Muhammad took place well before the taekwondo team had even been announced officially, in other words at a time when all the policies going and the BOA's own regulations demand that selection be treated in confidence.

    I do, however, agree that the lack of transparency in most of these cases is the big issue - for the athletes and the general public. Will Clarke said that when he got the phone call, the selectors - who'd just told him he wasn't going - then said they couldn't provide him with further feedback at that time while selection was ongoing. Well, if I were Will Clarke I'm not sure I'd be thrilled by that. You have to be able to drop somebody and explain why in the same breath - to the athletes and the wider world.

    This is what gets me about the taekwondo. If Dr Steve Peters is happy, then that makes me inclined to think they must have substantial evidence to support their decision. I've since seen one or two online press releases from GB Taekwondo that go some way to addressing the issues. But they did a comparatively poor job of disseminating all that vital information, the stuff which persuaded Dr Peters, compared to the efficiency with which we seemed to hear from all parties involved in the dispute calling each other names.

    Jack024 - The lack of coverage often isn't for any reason other than journalists not knowing the detail that followers of the sports do. With 20-odd summer sports to follow, and a dozen-plus winter sports on top of that, we often need the help of insiders to get at the issues because there isn't the time to work them out on our own in each discipline.

    For example, in fencing and triathlon, I rely heavily on people who know what's going on keeping me updated. Aaron Cook's camp have been instrumental in getting his story so much publicity - they've been hammering the media with their side of the argument. Ditto fencer Keith Cook, who bombarded people with press releases in great detail after his non-selection. It's not ideal that we rely on others for all of this information and obviously we check out everything we do get - volume of emails doesn't immediately equal publicity - but we have to hear about it to report it. Fans of any other sports who think we're missing something can always email me, oliver.williams@bbc.co.uk, and at the very least we can put appropriate questions to performance staff and begin to explore the official line and whether there's more to it.

  • Comment number 42.

    Alexander - Much of what I wrote to Jack, above, is relevant here. Thanks for your post which a few others have since followed up with me, but by all means write to me at oliver.williams@bbc.co.uk if you have anything else to add. I can't guarantee that we'll eventually report anything (primarily because I'd never offer that guarantee to anyone) but I'm always interested to hear more.

    And, for the record, I've covered shooting a fair few times since May 2010 but not on this blog, which is used only sparingly these days since our main website is often the preferred bet (it allows more formatting and can take comments these days). But there's certainly room to do more, I will. How did Abbey Burton respond to her omission? I saw that Kerwood had been added on her own rather than in the main Team GB selection announcement, were there any reasons associated with that?

    Rodneys Uncle - I'm hesitant to express my own view too much as what I would/wouldn't do in selection isn't the point. It's my job to report on it and if I compromise myself by giving my view away then somebody's going to be less than thrilled - either some athletes or the governing body - and that jeopardises my ability to get their side of the story properly in future.

    That caveat in place… triathlon first. I understand why the team looks the way it does. The grievances of those who missed out also make a lot of sense to me and I know I'd feel exactly the same way if I was in their shoes. Overlooking someone who's spent a decade at the top of the sport in favour of someone who has under a year at the same level is never going to go down well with some people, but that selection has been made under the principles of elite performance sport as laid down by UK Sport, and not with rewarding the dedication of long-term athletes in mind.

    How will I judge the selectors if nobody gets a medal? It depends on the circumstances. I think Lucy Hall can have a big impact on the women's race as Helen Jenkins' world title is based on consistency in the top five rather than the sheer race-winning dominance of the Brownlees. I can't forecast what questions the selectors will have to answer till that situation comes to pass and I know the circumstances. Sorry, ducking that one I know.

    Fencing - I feel as though I still haven't had the selection of a women's foil team fully explained to me. That's not to say they're wrong, just that I'm yet to be 100% convinced of the reasoning, but that doesn't mean the reasoning doesn't exist. Bear in mind one of that team qualified on merit, too.

    Taekwondo - As I've just written above, people in whose opinions I have some faith have come out in favour of the selection of Muhammad, but I wish GB Taekwondo had done a better job of communicating their precise reasoning. Hold a webchat even, go on Twitter and answer every reasonable question if you have to. I know GB Taekwondo felt they had to keep certain things to themselves for large periods, but now is the time to hammer home the message about why Muhammad deserved his selection. From the reasons I've read, again, I can understand why that decision was reached.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is sport - it can be judged on performance and there should be no need for discretionary selection. In the 2 years leading up to the Olympics, the sports should basically put forward the selection criteria by naming elite events that will carry Olympic selection points, awarded for qualifying standards and finishing results. Any athlete wishing to qualify for the Olympics should apply to the national governing body, receive competitor status, and then compete in qualifying events. The official team coaches should then take an equal interest in all athletes applying to qualify. The athletes with the highest points at a certain cut off date before the Olympics goes to the games (with the next best held in reserve in case of injury or unavailability due to other circumstances). No arguments, no unfairness and completely transparent. Everyone would know the rules and what you have to do to qualify. I have found the way the athletes have been selected for the Games particularly distasteful and it is one of the things that puts me off watching. It doesn't seem to have had much "Olympic Spirit" to it.

  • Comment number 44.

    That's the reason why I love the american trial system. The top three go to the olympics. Here we keep in the hands of coaches who may have grudges or play favouritism.

  • Comment number 45.

    => 44. GuenterF

    I think that would have made our men's triathlon team selection interesting as the favourite has only just come back from injury. There have also been reports of people being paid by athletes to travel to assist them in other teams selection events. In any case as I wrote above the American's still reserve the right to select a domestique for their triathlon team. I think it would have been interesting to see the US team if Verzbicas had committed to the sport earlier.

    Ollie, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I fully appreciate that you have to be careful not to compromise yourself, and that we as users can use pseudonyms, though I do feel that by their nature blogs including those on the BBC do to some extent include and are expected to include an amount of personal opinion as they are in effect the internet version of newspaper columns. In an ideal world you would be doing one or the other.

    My aim though wasn't to put you on the spot.

    Agree pretty much with your assessment on triathlon though not so sure about taekwondo as it still seems to be too much emphasis on a type of points scoring when the athlete that emphasis goes against is scoring more points overall. As you say, GB Taekwondo need to be totally open about their reasons. Until then it doesn't matter how many journalists they tell their side of the story to, there will always be the feeling that it comes down to who they train.

    => Clare, each of these sports to the best of my knowledge did exactly what you are suggesting. The issues seem to have arisen from either not enough competitors meeting those criteria, as in triathlon or, more than one competitor meeting the criteria as in taekwondo.

    In triathlon there is the option for the selectors to choose domestiques. It is within the selection policies of not just Britain and has been in there and widely known to being considered by the British for a couple of years. It is transparent, it was agreed to by the athletes who wished to be made available for selection. Britain could have opted to only send three competitors as you suggest but that benefits nobody, not the athletes who didn't meet the selection criteria and not the medal contenders especially when they could have the same kind of help their rivals may be getting.

    The issue then becomes who gets the call. For the athletes who haven't been selected the issue is simple, it should be them. For the selectors it is more complex and they must look at how any selection they make will influence the chances of securing those all important medals which in this case appears to be with the choice of domestiques.

    Personally I am saddened to hear that you feel put off watching and why I have tried to put a layman's understanding of the events. I hope that you will change your mind. Each of the athletes who have been selected has worked hard to get there and are not responsible for the final decisions of the selectors. I may feel that X, Y or Z would have been a better choice in a squad or team but that doesn't mean that I don't believe that others have worked hard to achieve their selection whether or not some feel it is unfounded. Every athlete who has been selected deserves our respect for their individual sacrifices and I hope people will be able to forget all the other stuff around the Games and enjoy supporting our competitors rather than wake up on August 13th and regret not doing so.

  • Comment number 46.

    Aaron Cooke should be there, 100%. Its a disgrace how the world number 1 in a sport isn't selected.

    Look at the hundreds of other sports we have. Is Usain Bolt, the 2011 200m champion going to the Olympics? Is Alistair Brownlee, 2011 world triathlon champion going to the Olympics? Is Victoria Pendleton, 2012 track cycling world champion in the sprint event, going to the olympics? Yes, they all are.

    I don't think anyone in that weight category can feel they won their medal fairly if they know they didn't beat the world number 1, of the person who beat the world number 1. It adds value to the competition. Thats why in a sport like tennis, for example, competitions always try to attract the top ranked players, to add more value to the competition. I don't think people will care if they beat Lutalo.

    I think the bad press Lutalo has received is pretty unfounded-all he did was participate in tournaments, so he had an opportunity to be selected. This is just British Taekwondo getting a bit upset that their training plan for Aaron Cooke didn't work. Because there is no set formula to make everyone a world champion-otherwise everyone would be doing it

    I just think Aaron Cook has proved, on a results basis, that he is the Olympic contender for the spot. And, of course, British Taekwondo have rejected evidence that he provided that they rejected him as soon as he left their programme-because they had to cover it up.

    Feel really bad for Aaron-hope his legal action allows him to get the spot.

  • Comment number 47.

    Rodneys Uncle 45 - that can't be what they did because people are surprised and disappointed they weren't selected! If they did employ those tactics then it should have been transparent and obvious who would be selected because everyone would know how many selection points everyone else had and they would know before each event where they stood in respect to the other competitors competing for selection. Clearly, they did not and clearly many sports have exercised discretion. The decisions were all taken behind closed doors when it should have been an open and clear process.

    As for missing out because of injury - that's how it goes. There will always be some sort of injustice where there are more candidates than spots but it would be the same for everyone.

  • Comment number 48.

    Rodneys Uncle 45. drafting is not the ideal of Triathlon - I agree, however team tactics in an individual sport where the athletes are meant to be complete competitors (swim, bike AND run) is surely contrary to the principles of sport.
    Dometiques were always listed as an option for BT in their selection policies - agreed but selection criteria for a domestique were not published. as far as I can tell there have been NO occasions for BT to compare Lucy Hall and Liz Blatchford either in a race or in a gym. so what is the basis of choice.....Why was Lucy Hall sent to tier 3 races in South America and not Tier 1/2 races with good fields in Australia and USA? maybe to avoid raccing the other players???? If you look at swim bike times (bad comparison because of drafting but the only one available) Lucy is no better than Liz, and no better than Jodie Stimpsom. If you look at the past pedigrees - only Liz Blatchford stayed with Helen Jenkins in the world Champs last year, all the other Brits fell off the lead pack. you asked what Liz's pedigree was....4 wins and 14 podiums if my maths is correct....Final comment - why has Lucy Hall not competed in any of the selection races to see if the idea of domestique for HJ actually works or how she stacks up against the other competitors....it didnt work last year in the one and only time it has been trialled. HJ will not be allowed to break away as she did in Vancouver...she is a marked lady now....
    Clare, I wholeheartedly agree that decisions should have been made and communicated openly and not behind closed doors. BT is an "employer", the athletes are their staff....their termination methods are very poor.

    I would add again that the appeals process should be transparent AND independent....not by the same selectors who made the original decison. yes both parties (selectors and athlete) should have the right to present in person (not just behind legal letters) so there is at least the semblence of fairness - not the way it occurred.

    Generally please note that Will Clarke has been as poorly treated as Liz Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson...

    Much clearer criteria are needed - If britain had finished 1,2,3 at last years world champs BT still said they would only select 2 competitors and reserved the right to pick a domestique....if domestiques are to be used in this sport then clear criteria must be defined - is it a good swim or a good swim bike or what...and all competitors MUST be measured against each other in consistent and fair conditions.

  • Comment number 49.

    => Clare

    Please go and find the selection criteria and read them. Also if the competitors didn't know domestiques could be selected why do the athletes think certain people were being entered in certain races, including one very high profile situation. As I wrote, only three triathletes met the selection criteria.

    => big-mike

    sadly whether team tactics are contrary to the principles of a sport is a whole different issue. Once drafting was allowed this was always a possibility. That at least three nations include this as an option shows that the sport is continually developing and adapting to the rules.

    Now to your stats. Maybe the swim bike times are no better but perhaps you should ask Liz, Jodie and Will whether they showed true willingness to race as a domestique. I don't know but nothing I have read suggests that they have and at least one other poster on here seems to have the same feeling. Liz has even said the same as you about the principles of the sport. Do you think that helped convince the selectors that she would feel comfortable doing the role. You say Liz's pedigree is 4 wins and 14 podiums but then fail to give details of in what races, the level of the field against her and the like. By your own reckoning they must have been in World Championship or Triathlon Series races but I can't recall them.

    Please don't get me wrong I, like I am guessing you, have had the pleasure to meet all the various people involved and admire them all greatly, but there is so much depending on winning medals that I can understand the selectors policy.

    You say Jenkins is now a marked lady (and so are the Brownlees) so why don't you think a domestique is the best option. It isn't a good argument for selection to say you disagree with the use of domestiques one minute but to then say Liz would be better if she holds similar views. The selectors and the main medal contenders need to be able to rely on the domestique 100% to do that role.

    You also say there is no clear cut criteria for selecting domestiques. If I remember correctly it is near the back of the document (I found it again a few days ago because somebody in another forum stated there was no criteria)

    I don't disagree that if Britain had finished 1-2-3 at last years worlds then the third place athlete would have had good reason to appeal but the simple fact is they didn't and none of the athletes who didn't get selected have done so in any races. You say Liz stayed with Helen on the bike but please tell us how many other athletes did that as often there is a very large pack pottering around the course. I am sure you will have the stats so how many times has Liz actually influenced a race on the bike. No I don't know the relevant stats for Hall, Stimpson, Clarke, Hayes but I am sure that is what has gone through the heads of the selectors as they make their decisions.

    Personally I suspect the final decisions probably came down to one or two circumstances in races for example Hayes' actions in Kitzbuhel in 2010. That breakaway may have been the most fortuitous action of his life.

  • Comment number 50.

    The scenario regarding Aaron Cook stinks like a dead rat in a drain - enough said.

  • Comment number 51.

    Rodney's uncle -I'm not talking about triathlon - I'm talking about all Olympic selection. If it had been clear and transparent and based purely on merit, judged by a clearly defined set of rules and published every week on a website during the qualifying period, then EVERYONE would know who would be in the team. Whether it be Taikwondo, Triathlon, Athletics, Show Jumping or whatever. They shouldn't need to get a telephone call saying they weren't selected because they would know how many points they had, how many points their rivals had and who ended up at the top of the tree. If athletes are saying they are surprised that they were not selected then they clearly did not know or had not been properly informed what the criteria would be (or personal opinions triumphed over data). There should not be any discretionary places, full stop. Everyone who goes should be trying to finish in the best possible position and not be there to "help" other athletes who selectors think have a better chance - in ANY sport. Any sport that relies on athletes supporting a lead athlete is called a team sport and the team should get a medal, not an individual.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nice blog and good to see coverage of the lesser known sports, back home in the US we don't get coverage like this.

    The Aaron Cook situation is crazy and it just isn't clear how the selection of Muhammed was made. The taekwondo bosses called his attempts to get selected 'desperate', this is the Olympics he's fighting to be part of, I hope they are.

    The women's fencing situation is different and having reading the comments on the link Ollie and hokers posted the problem is the brits attitude to their Olympians and each other more than the selection. From what I glean, in the sabre event nobody in the UK was good enough to qualify and all the athletes mention are only getting the chance to go at all because of the wildcard allowance for host nations. Our guys back home don't have this privilege, all our team had to get the results to qualify, they don't qualify they don't go. The selection criteria for these underperforming wildcards has been shown as a mixture of being results and predicted future performance.

    I can see why leaving out Hutchison in favour of Williams who is ranked way below her sounds mad, but if you look at the criteria the performance director has given the outcome meets it. The selection of Bond-Williams and Williams is a combination of results and future potential, wildcard selection is always different from qualifying selection, that's the way it is. There's a lot of talk of Hutchison 'deserving' to go to the Olympics more than anyone else because of her UK ranking. Come on, none of them 'deserve' to go, only the athletes in the world who've got the results and competed on an equal playing field to qualify deserve to go. If Hutchison wanted to be sure of a place, she should have qualified.

    But I'm glad our sportsmen and women don't have to see the flavor of comments that have been posted by brit supporters on that link. Sports communities and their supporters get worked up, it's natural, and bullying and aggression sadly do raise their heads among supporters of some sports, and brit fencing is known to be one of them. But there are comments on that link that are basically praying for the brit Olympian Bond-Williams to be so injured that she'll have to be dropped and Hutchison take her place, someone even wrote they believe in the power of the mind to achieve this. That's a new nasty low, even for brit fencing.

    I'm glad our guys back home don't have this garbarge to deal with and supporters back our Olympians, we don't hope for them to be injured so the one we like gets picked. But I gotta say, if I was Beazley the sponsor of brit fencing, I'd be wondering what kind of community I was supporting with my £1m. We've heard a lot about the pr of brit fencing, perhaps Beazley pr would like to make a statement, or Ollie you could ask them? £1m donation to an anti-bullying charity might be a better idea.

    Get behind your teams guys for all sports, and stop hoping they fail to prove your opinion right. Come on, once every four years, don't blame the athletes for selection choices. Get behind your countries and your teams, and good luck to everyone, wish them all the best.

  • Comment number 53.

    Rodneys uncle - if you choose to try and belittle LB's performances then so be it - your loss...her ITU wins and podiums have been well publicised over the years and include Salford, Ishigaki, mooloolaba, Rio, Gamagori etc etc against top fields...not tier 3 races in south america with no competition. You also fail again to do your research and just ask questions to which the answers are well publicised. LB stayed with the lead pack of 12 initially that broke away in Beijiing world chanps last year. there were 4 brits in that group. Only LB and HJ stayed and the "pack" (only 8 at the finish of the bike) went away from the rest of the field. perhaps you dont want to admit to the pedigree.....
    No I dont agree that a domestique is the right way to go, and yes I do agree that drafting has changed the sport for the worse. However that still doesnt change the debate. LB (and JS) should have been chosen ahead of LH

    Your vague reference to the selection criteria - I assume you refer to 4.2.4 and 7.2 - not really very definitive are they! As I recall LB agreed publicly to follow the domestique role if she couldnt get a single spot in her own right! Read also 4.2.3 which states that they would pick athletes based on perfomances between 1/1/2011 and 31/5/2012 if they were "medal contenders". By BTF own funding criteria 8th at Beijiing is Medal Contender status.

    you mention that two other countries include domestique as an option....only 2? The USA could have easily included an awesome swimmer - better than LH, but opted for the best athletes, I note that the swiss have included one now to support Nicola Spirig....soon we'll end up like Cycling Road race with everyone demanding 5 places or it wont be fair on the smaller countries - who will domestique for Lisa Norden?

    Stuart Hayes - well as I said in my original blog Stuart is a very good swim bike athlete, however in the last 12 months Will Clarke has come a lot closer and maybe even passed Stuart. (but do the Brownlees NEED a domestique?) that decision is a lot closer in my mind than the decision for the females where the athletes are poles apart in rankings, experience and pedigree. I take nothing away from LH as a swimmer - she is very good, but she has not proven to be a great swim/bike in any race with a competitive field.

    Clear guidelines are required. Open management is required. Make the athletes compete for places fairly. Allow athletes to be present at an independent appeal. How can anyone say that LH is better in the domestique role than LB, JS when she hasnt competed against LB and has no better swim bike times than JS....BTF have played a dangerous game I fear.

    I truly hope HJ medals but I suspect it will have nothing to do with LH. We dont need to worry about the Brownlees I suspect!

 

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