Team GB ignores top-ranked triathletes to pick domestiques for London 2012
Saturday, 09 June 2012
June 9 - British Triathlon precipitated another controversy over London 2012 selection today.
They took the calculated decision to maximise the already strong medal chances of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan (pictured above left and right), and Helen Jenkins by filling two of their six places in the London 2012 team with riders whose duty will be to assist the podium prospects of the trio who have lodged themselves at the top of the sport in recent years.
But the decision to pick Stuart Hayes and Lucy Hall as "domestiques", along with the sixth selection, Vicky Holland, means there is no place at the Games for the likes of Will Clarke, former world champion and triple Olympian Tim Don, Liz Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson, even though they failed to reach the team on merit according to strict qualification criteria which required podium finishes in world series races.
Blatchford tweeted: "Now that it is official I can say I am devastated to have been left off the GB Olympic team" and added it was "a hard pill to swallow" and "really gutting"
Alistair (pictured), the elder of the two Brownlee brothers at 24, was world champion in 2009 and 2001 and celebrated his return to action today after an Achilles tendon tear by claiming a joint victory with his 22-year-old brother at the BlenheimTriathlon.
Jonathan finished second in the world behind Alistair last year, and has won the 2012 San Diego and Madrid races in brother's absence.
Jenkins, 28, was world champion in 2008 under old one-off format and in 2011 under new season-long format and looks a real force.
Holland, 26, is the best-performing British woman beyond Jenkins in 2012, having finished fifth in San Diego and seventh in Madrid.
The two "domestiques" are Hayes, 33, who had his one world series win in Austria two years ago and his big selling point is speed on the bike, and Hall, 20, who registered her first senior international victory in March but has barely competed at elite world level.
She is particularly swift in the swim and bike disciplines.
"The selectors made it very clear that if I was going to take this place on the team, I would be going as someone to help [Helen Jenkins (pictured)]," Hall said.
"It would be team tactics - I wouldn't be going as an individual, which I never thought I would anyway.
"I know I'm not a fast enough runner."
"It's hard, because two of those people have basically walked onto an Olympic team," said Clarke, 27, who is currently ranked 12th in world governing body the International Triathlon Union's (ITU) Olympic rankings.
Don is ranked 13th, with Hayesm who began the 2012 season injured, 46th.
"There's not really any other sport like that, where someone qualifies so easily considering what others like us have been through," added Clarke.
"We've been racing at the top level around the world for years, gaining ranking points, and they've walked onto the Olympic team.
"But I'm still good friends with Stuey [Hayes] and I wish him all the best."
Hall defended her selection, saying: "I'm a human being, I'm not a rock.
"I do have feelings.
"As an athlete I can see it from their perspective but I hope people don't see it as my fault and they realise I was selected to do a job.
"Everyone can't be happy with the decision - people are always going to be upset.
"That's how it is, that's sport.
"It's horrible to think some people don't get to fulfil their Olympic dreams - I hope they understand why I'm taking this opportunity.
"It's a home Olympics; I can't turn it down."