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Archives for March 2012

Rhythmic gymnasts' reprieve leaves questions unanswered

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Ollie Williams | 08:40 UK time, Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Great Britain's rhythmic gymnastics team will go to London 2012, but large gaps remain in our knowledge of how their Olympic bid disintegrated into argument, anguish and acrimony.

On Monday an independent arbitrator found in favour of the gymnasts, delivering a verdict noteworthy for its devastating assessment of governing body British Gymnastics' "inconsistent, cut-and-paste" selection policy.

From the arbitrator's account of what both sides had to say, it is hard to argue with his decision. The gymnasts contended that, in a crucial three-day Olympic test event, British Gymnastics never really told them their window to hit a target score only extended to the first two days. The full 16-page verdict suggests the selection document fell well short of making this explicit. It does not say the rhythmic gymnasts' interpretation was correct, merely that the document is ambiguous enough to support the conclusion they reached.

While for many the end result is the right one, some of the detail remains underwhelming. There were a number of opportunities for the team to discover that day two was deadline-day, ahead of the fateful hour. How did they miss them all?

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Could injury wreck GB triathlon hopes?

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Ollie Williams | 12:03 UK time, Friday, 2 March 2012

All being well, Great Britain will win at least three medals in the Olympic triathlon races this summer. Two will be gold.

The problem is, all is not well. Britain may have both the current world champions in Alistair Brownlee and Helen Jenkins, but Brownlee is injured. He recently tore his Achilles tendon.

For younger brother Jonny, world champion in the shorter sprint triathlon and world number two to Alistair over the Olympic distance, this means the temporary loss of his training partner. The world's top two male triathletes - Britons, and brothers - have had their preparations disrupted at a crucial moment.

Yet such is their dominance that this has happened before, to very little effect. Alistair Brownlee sat out the opening months of the 2010 season with a stress fracture, then came back to win two world series races.

In 2011, a heel problem at the start of the year cleared up in time for him to win the European Championships despite suffering a puncture during the race, with Jonny second. They crossed the line moments apart, far in advance of the field. Brownlee won in Hyde Park and Beijing that year en route to the world title ahead of his brother.

Problems at the start and victories at the end seemed to characterise each season. Will this one be any different?

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