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PROTRACK » GENERAL » More Olympic Selection Controversy - 'Upset' Cuddihy to appeal axe from Irish relay team

More Olympic Selection Controversy - 'Upset' Cuddihy to appeal axe from Irish relay team

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'Upset' Cuddihy to appeal axe from Olympic relay team

By Cliona Foley
Irish Independent
Monday July 09 2012

CAITRIONA Cuddihy is lodging an appeal with the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) after being dropped from the 4x400m relay team -- just four days after modelling the team kit at the official team launch for London 2012.

She was still waiting last night to get clarification on the exact appeal process but confirmed yesterday that she intends fighting her case after being selected, and then dropped, by Athletics Ireland (AAI) within the past week.

Cuddihy finished fifth in yesterday's national 400m final in 55.27 seconds, a race won by her sister and defending champion Joanne, who won 'Athlete of the Meet' title after completing a 200m/400m double.

"It was very hard to concentrate, because I've been so upset," was all that Caitriona Cuddihy would say afterwards. "I'd just been trying to focus on keeping it together to run fast today and I'm happy I ran, I did the best that I could and that's all I could do."

Her older sister, who will compete individually and anchor the 4x400m in London, was more forthcoming on the embarrassing selection controversy that took another massive twist over the weekend.

"Hats off to Caitriona for putting her chin up today and just running with the pressure of the world on her shoulders," Joanne Cuddihy (right) said. "The relay (situation) has been heart-wrenching for her and for absolutely everyone on the team, it's just been unfair.

"I'm just a bit baffled by the whole thing. So many things should, and could, have been done differently. The way it's happened has just been cruel."

There was some surprise when Athletics Ireland named the Olympic 4x400m team early last week before nationals, which were the official selection deadline.

They added European 400m hurdles finalist Jessie Barr (Ferrybank) to the team and dropped Ballymena and Antrim teenager Joanna Mills (19).

Mills, like Caitriona Cuddihy, was one of two relay reserves who didn't run at the Europeans but was disgusted when she was not then included for the Olympics.

She successfully appealed her non-selection to Athletics Ireland on Saturday, arguing that, on times, she had the sixth-fastest 400m time in Ireland this season (54.41) and, as a result, Caitriona Cuddihy -- with a season best of 54.59 -- was deselected.

Olympic chef de mission Sonia O'Sullivan has pointed out that it would have been better to pick the team after seeing them all race at the Nationals.

Yesterday's final bore out the form. Joanne Cuddihy won in 51.89, followed by relay regulars Marian Heffernan (53.32) , Michelle Carey (53.50), Claire Bergin (54.19) and the younger Cuddihy.

But Mills was never going to be able to run in it because she has qualified for this week's World Junior Championships in Barcelona and departed for Spain on Saturday night.

"The AAI have shown themselves to be amateurish -- they made the mistake and now they've wrecked it for two girls instead of just one," Mills' coach Ian Neely said.

"Caitriona is feeling the same way that Joanna felt just four days ago and that's not nice. Joanna is obviously pleased that she is going but she feels for Caitriona too.

"It was mistake after mistake and two people are mentally scarred because of the whole thing."



OCI hold up 400m relay entry

The Irish Times
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ATHLETICS NEWS: IN A further twist to the selection controversy surrounding the women’s 4x400 metres relay team for London the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) have stalled the process of entering either Joanna Mills or Catriona Cuddihy until receiving full clarification of the matter from Athletics Ireland.

It means, for now, neither athlete is sure if or when they will actually be confirmed for London, even though the process of formally submitting Olympic entries is due to be completed by Friday.

The OCI must rubber-stamp the Olympic selections of all the national federations, but have held over accepting the sixth member of the women’s relay team due to the continuing uncertainty of what, if any, appeal process might be set in motion.

Athletics Ireland have been asked for full clarification of their relay selection process, and why they first named Cuddihy among the six-woman team last Tuesday, only then to replace her with Mills, who successfully appealed this original selection over the weekend.

The OCI have yet to receive any update on this, although they are expecting correspondence some time today.

“Until we get the necessary clarification on this we can’t process the entry of either athlete,” said OCI spokesman Jack McGouran. “As of now we aren’t in the position to replace one athlete with another, so no, the OCI have not yet accepted Joanna Mills, nor yet replaced Catriona Cuddihy.

“So effectively the situation is still very much up in the air. We want to do what’s right, but we need to be pointed in the right direction, too. We need to know did Athletics Ireland make the right decision, and was it all legally correct? Otherwise we could end up with a legality issue of our own.”

The OCI have received notification of Cuddihy’s intent to counter-appeal, but can’t proceed “without full clarification from Athletics Ireland on what exactly went on”, if only because “the OCI may not even have a role to play here”.

Friday is the deadline for submission of Irish entries to the London Olympic organising Committee, LOCOG, and with that in mind any potential appeal would need to be agreed before then. So, whether it’s Cuddihy or Mills being told no, there’ll be no easy way of putting it.



Athletics Ireland are told they must settle Mills-Cuddihy dispute

Joanna Mills

Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has batted the women's relay selection controversy right back at the feet of Athletics Ireland (AAI).

The OCI confirmed they received a request for an appeal from a solicitor representing Kilkenny 400m runner Caitriona Cuddihy, who was left out of the team after Ulster girl Joanna Mills successfully appealed her controversial omission.

But OCI spokesman Jack McGouran said they will not handle the appeal until they are satisfied that Athletics Ireland followed all the proper procedures in their own internal selection and appeal process.

Athletics Ireland chief executive John Foley confirmed they have had a formal request for information from the OCI and are responding to it “as a matter of urgency”.

It is understood that one procedural hiccup did occur in the AAI's appeal process.

When Mills formally objected to being omitted from the squad, AAI was duty-bound to contact all of the other members of the relay team, inform them an appeal had been lodged and offer give them all an opportunity to make a personal submission on the matter.

Athletics Ireland actually followed correct procedure and did this.

But they informed the athletes of this by email and the address that AAI used was not recognised by the various athletes' internet accounts.

As a result, the notification went into the athletes' ‘junk mail' boxes and was not discovered until Saturday night, which was after Mills' appeal had been heard.

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