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Sport

Australia name Olympic marathon team after ugly selection row

todayJune 3, 2024 2

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Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jess Stenson was named in Australia’s Paris marathon team Monday at the expense of four-time Olympian Lisa Weightman after an ugly selection row.

Weightman was bidding to become the first Australian track and field athlete to compete at five Olympics and qualified third fastest behind Sinead Diver and Genevieve Gregson for the three-member women’s team.

But with six runners all under the qualifying time, selectors instead opted for Stenson, the 2022 Commonwealth champion who is on the comeback after giving birth.

The 45-year-old Weightman, who was told about the decision last month, appealed to the National Sports Tribunal.

The tribunal recommended Athletics Australia appoint an independent committee to reconsider their selection, but the governing body declined to do so.

Weightman reportedly planned to take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, but opted not to because of the cost.

The Paris Olympics begin in eight weeks.

“I am of course disappointed by the decision given that I fought hard and fair to gain my qualification time — the third fastest of all Australian women during the qualification period,” said Weightman.

“However, what I am most disappointed about is AA’s own internal systems and procedures that have allowed this outcome and which, unless corrected, will negatively impact future Australian athletes and their legitimate claims to represent Australia.”

Matters got personal when Weightman’s husband publicly messaged Stenson last week asking her to take down a photo on her X account showing the two runners, which the 36-year-old did.

Former Olympic champion hurdler Sally Pearson, a good friend of Weightman, came to her defence in a recent newspaper column, writing that a “bombshell has been dropped on Australian athletics”.

“I’m disappointed with the national selection panel, but I’m more shocked at the integrity of Athletics Australia and how this has become a total farce,” she said.

A day later, Athletics Australia president Jane Flemming issued a statement slamming “baseless, unfounded and damaging” commentary.

“Any allegations that Athletics Australia or Athletics Australia’s selection panel has not acted with integrity is also defamatory, and simply not true,” she said.

“As president of Athletics Australia, we respect and support our independent selection panel as well as their expertise and experience.

“And we are satisfied that the policy was followed when selecting athletes to be nominated for the women’s marathon in Paris.”

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AFP

(NAMPA / AFP)

 

Written by: Staff Writer

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