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PROTRACK » GENERAL » De Castella blasts Olympic "shambles"

De Castella blasts Olympic "shambles"

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1 De Castella blasts Olympic "shambles" on Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:53 am



De Castella blasts Olympic "shambles"

By Tim Clarke
5 July 2012

AUSTRALIAN marathon legend Rob de Castella has blasted his country’s Olympics selection policy as a “shambles” – saying the sport’s governing body was hindering athletes from achieving Olympic glory.

As de Castella continues his work as a “marathon missionary” around the country, he has accused Athletics Australia of an exclusionary policy which could prevent the top athletic talent from developing.

And he cited the example of American-based steeplechaser Genevieve Lacaze as an example of the total communication breakdown between athlete, coach and administrator which could threaten Australian Olympic glory in London and beyond.

“It is a shambles,” de Castella said.

“Athletics Australia really need to work closely with the athletes to get their confidence back.

“Unfortunately there is a breakdown in confidence between the athletes and the administration, and that is never a good thing.

“Especially when track and field and distance running is such a tough event on the world stage.

“We really do need to have a united athletic force in this country if we are ever going to have a system that is able to identify develop and achieve success.

“It is easy to feel as though the selection policy is trying to keep runners out rather than get runners in.”

Lacaze was originally excluded from the Australian team despite running the qualifying time for her event, before Athletics Australia backflipped following the intervention of AOC boss John Coates.

De Castella said that example should shame Athletics Australia into attempting a reconciliation with the athletes it was supposed to represent.

“The sport should be trying to get as many runners as possible into the team, and giving these young talented guys like Genevieve every support and encouragement and opportunity," De Castella said.

“(Athletes should) not feel like the sport is making it harder – it is already hard enough."

De Castella is currently in the midst of several projects, heavily involved in the Indigenous Marathon Program and serving as an ambassador to for the Chevron City to Surf for Activ event to be held in Perth next month.

However, the former marathon world record holder and 1983 world champion is still a keen follower Australian long-distance fortunes – and says the advent of full marathon teams for both the men and women was a sign of growing depth in an elite discipline.

“It is great – it is a long time since we have had full teams going to the marathon in both mens and womens,” de Castella said.

“It will be very exciting to see how they run. It is tough – a tough course, tough conditions, a tough field.

“It is a good sign.

“I don’t want to put unfair expectations on them, the standard around the world now is so high. For our guys to finish in the top 20 would be a really good, solid run.

“If any of them could squeeze into the top 10 then that would be amazing.”

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