Australia tells Britain, "hands off Jana - she's one of ours"
By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
June 27 - Australia has declared that double world 400 metres hurdles champion Jana Rawlinson (pictured) is "one of ours" after it emerged that she was set to switch her allegiance to Britain for the London 2012 Olympics.
As reported first in Britain on insidethegames yesterday, Rawlinson has applied for a UK passport which she is entitled to because she is married to Yorkshire-born Chris Rawlinson, formerly Britain's leading 400m hurdler, and wants to compete for Britain because she is disillusioned after all her Australian sponsors dropped her following a long period of injury.
Eric Hollingsworth, Athletics Australia's British-born performance director, spoke to Rawlinson from her new base in Loughborough earlier today, which he described as "amicable".
He said: "She's an Australian athlete.
"I’m a big fan of Jana's personally, as well as for what she's done for our country.
"She’s done great things for us, she’s won medals, she’s been a loyal servant from that point of view.
"Athletics Australia understands the situation.
"Jana is one of ours.
"We still have all the time in the world for her."
But Rawlinson, the 2003 and 2007 world 400m hurdles champion, claimed that she felt unwanted by Athletics Australia.
She said: "I do look at what British Athletics does for their athletes and they are much better supported..
"I feel like I have been left by the wayside [by Athletics Australia].
"I have the potential to be an Olympic champion and AA doesn't care."
Hollingsworth has listened to the concerns of Rawlinson, who recently remarried Chris (pictured) after they had got divorced, and promised to act on them.
He said: "I’ve spoken with her at length, and once I've investigated the matter further over the next 24 hours I’m happy to elaborate on it.
"I’ll be talking to her on-going.
"Jana is a very good friend of mine.
"I’ve never had a non-amicable discussion with her.
"I’ve known her for a very, very long time."
Rawlinson has not yet officially approached UK Athletics about the change of nationality but they have said that they will consider the switch if she applies.
She has not competed for Australia since winning the world title in Osaka nearly three years ago.
But Rob Fildes, the President of Athletics Australia, remains confident that Rawlinson will not switch her allegiance.
He said: "We'd be very disappointed.
"She's a wonderful Australian athlete and we would hope that she would continue to run for Australia and would want to run for Australia.
"We're assuming that if she competes in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi [in October] she’ll be competing for Australia."
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June 2010: Australian double world champion considering GB switch for London 2012
January 2010: Rawlinson removes breast implants to help win Olympic gold in London
October 2009: Pittman may switch to triathlon after London 2012
October 2009: Pittman targets New Delhi but London 2012 remains the priority
May 2009: Rawlinson targets London after split from British husband