By Duncan Mackay
November 19 - British Swimming head coach Dennis Pursley has hit out at the prospect that Rebecca Adlington (pictured) could be denied the opportunity to defend her women's 800 metres freestyle title at London if the event is dropped from the Olympic programme.
The event is facing the axe, by request of the Coaching Commission of FINA, in favour of the 1500m freestyle in move that unify the men's and women’s Olympic swimming programme for the first time in history.
Pursley, the former head coach of USA Swimming for 14 years, is appalled at the prospect of the event being removed prior to a home Games in the middle of an Olympic cycle.
He said: "While, in principle, we support the idea of introducing a 1500m freestyle event for women - allowing the Olympic programme to mirror that of the men's - I am strongly opposed to the suggestion that this could be introduced for London 2012 while our athletes are in the middle of their Olympic training cycle.
"Athletes and coaches use the entire four-year cycle to prepare for an Olympic Games and to change this now would be unfair.
"We are comfortable for the women’s 1500 to be introduced at the 2016 Olympic Games [in Rio] but to introduce it for 2012 would undermine all of the work put in by the athletes and coaches who have been working toward competing in the 800m in London."
FINA's ruling Executive will make a decision in January as to whether or not they will recommend the move to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
At the FINA World Swimming Championships men and women are able to compete in both the 800m and 1500m Freestyle events; however the IOC is opposed to adding more events to the swimming schedule.
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March 2009: Adlington upset gold medal event could be axed