Cuddihy's Olympic send-off falls flat
ATHLETICS/NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:HOW MANY times must an athlete chase an Olympic A-standard before the time runs out? The answer may well be blowing in the wind, or else lost in the drizzling rain.
And how many times should an athlete be told that yes, they’re selected for the Olympics, only then to be told actually no, they’re not? The answer there is surely once is one time too many.
Maybe it wouldn’t be a proper Olympics after all without a row of some sort, and while these national championships were billed as the last chance for athletes still chasing London qualifying standards, they ended up being overshadowed by the athletes already selected for the women’s 4x400 metres relay.
What should have been a triumphant send-off for Joanne Cuddihy ended up being an emotional illumination of just how upsetting the selection controversy had become. Cuddihy won her fifth 400 metres title (having also won the 200 metres on Saturday), and instead of taking any great satisfaction, took the chance to explain just how badly wrong the Athletics Ireland selectors handled the situation – and not just the way they handled her younger sister, Catriona, who took fifth in the same race behind three other relay team members Marian Heffernan, Michelle Carey and Claire Bergin.
Joanne Mills didn’t race, as she’s preparing for this week’s World Junior Championships in Barcelona, but was told on Saturday afternoon that she would be going to London after all, after appealing the decision of Athletics Ireland to select Catriona Cuddihy ahead of her as one of the six relay team members.
“Hats off to Catriona for coming out here and running anyway, with the pressure of the world on her shoulders,” said Cuddihy. “Because we’ve all had this sickening feeling, all weekend, so I for one am just glad to get this race over with.
“I mean this relay team is a fantastic team, and I love being a part of it. I just hate to see this happen. So many things, I think, should have, could have, been done differently. Because the way it’s turned out has just been cruel. Even yesterday, after my 200 metres, I was pleased with my own performance, but my mind was 100 miles away, all weekend.”
Catriona then confirmed that she would be making a counter-appeal to the Olympic Council of Ireland: “All I’ve done is inform them that I would like to make an appeal, and I’m waiting for them to get back to me. I haven’t put in the grounds of that appeal yet, only that I was appealing.
“John Foley (the chief executive of Athletics Ireland) just advised me to contact the OCI myself about the appeal. I don’t know if anything like this has really happened before, so I don’t really know what the process is. It’s been very hard, trying to stay focused on my race, trying to keep it together. I’m happy I ran as best as I could here, because that’s all I can do.”
Both the Cuddihy sisters put on a brave face, and yet what all members of the relay team seem to agree on is the decision to announce the team last Tuesday, when last night was the deadline, was premature, when the national championships would have been the perfect platform for athletes to demonstrate the form before the selection was made.