Ireland sticking to plan 'A' for London Games
THE Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) reiterated yesterday that they will only send athletes to London in 2012 who have achieved the 'A' qualification standard.
One newspaper reported last weekend that Irish athletics' flurry of underage success had persuaded the OCI to contemplate sending some young 'development' athletes to London if they had achieved the 'B' standard in their events.
Irish athletes have won medals at World Youth, European Juniors and U-23 level recently and earned six podium finishes at last week's European Youth (U-18) Olympics.
Eamonn Coghlan is among the experts who have already suggested that the London Olympics offers a unique opportunity -- because of the proximity and lower costs -- to send young athletes to the Games for developmental reasons.
But the OCI stressed yesterday that they will not be making any U-turns on their previous qualification criteria.
"The OCI has a binding and mutually agreed contract with the athletics federation (AAI) to solely select 'A' standard athletes for London and this will not change in any way, shape or form," said OCI president Pat Hickey.
"We both are absolutely and totally committed to 'A' standards only."
The OCI have had a strict 'A standard only' policy before, which was why there was such controversy when, at the last minute, they accepted three 'B' standard athletes to go to the Beijing Olympics in 2004.