Thu, Jul 05, 2012 - Page 19 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Athletes booted like Beckham

FURIOUS:Despite achieving Olympic ‘A’ qualifying times, some leading track-and-field athletes were not included in the British team and are threatening to appeal

AP, LONDON

Fresh off David Beckham being booted, more British athletes were dealing with the desperate disappointment of being left off the team for their home Olympics on Tuesday.

Some, like sprinter Richard Kilty, were furious.

Unlike the Los Angeles Galaxy superstar, the lesser-known track-and-field names will not have the chance to play another headline role at Britain’s biggest sporting party in over half a century, either.

Kilty tweeted: “ABSOLUTE DISGRACE” when he was overlooked for the men’s 200m, despite running inside the top Olympic qualifying time twice. He promised to appeal and said on Twitter that coaches and selectors had “a personal problem” with him, having only filled two of the three places in his event and still left him off the team.

Britain athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee was braced for a bunch of other appeals, having also controversially left out four leading women in the 800m in his team selection in favor of just one athlete — Lynsey Sharp from Scotland, who has not run the top Olympic time, but won the British trials and was second at last week’s European championships.

Marilyn Okoro threatened to quit after she was one of those dumped despite setting an Olympic “A” time this year. She was selected in the 1,600m relay, but that was no consolation.

“When I spoke to her [Okoro] on the phone, she indicated that she would quit,” Van Commenee said.

“I want to see how that goes in the next few days ... I don’t expect that athletes to receive that news well. They [the athletes he cut] made it difficult by not doing what they were supposed to do,” he added.

Also out of the 800m were former world bronze medalist and European indoor champion Jenny Meadows, Emma Jackson and Jemma Simpson. While Meadows struggled all season with injury and did not contest her non-selection, Okoro and Jackson have set Olympic times this season, but did not perform at the trials, won by the young Sharp.

Still, Simpson said the selectors’ choices had undermined Britain’s Olympic team and the entire Games effort.

“Taxpayers have spent a lot of money on the home Olympics. Don’t they deserve to see full representation of GB athletes!?” she tweeted.

On Monday, Beckham missed out on an emotional and ideal career swansong in his home city and at the Games he helped London win, when soccer boss Stuart Pearce decided the 37-year-old former England captain was not good enough for the 18-man soccer squad.

Van Commenee broke some more hearts on Tuesday.

For those unlucky athletes, they will likely be watching the July 27 opening ceremony on TV and not marching behind the host country’s flag. Lifelong dreams scratched out by a coach or official’s selection pen.

Just like British taekwondo star Aaron Cook, the European champion in the 80kg category. A 104th-ranked fighter was picked in his place.

Van Commenee did point out the athletics selectors agonized for two hours of their six-hour selection meeting over the women’s 800m athletes.

“Hearing the news that you are not part, that you can’t compete in your favorite event in the Olympics is not easy to digest and not easy to give that news,” Van Commenee said.

In all, Van Commenee did pick 71 athletes to go with the six marathon runners already selected. However, even though he included drug cheats Dwain Chambers and Carl Myerscough in the team, it was all about who was not going to get to compete.

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