Wednesday 17 January 2018

Athletics: Mills appeals against her exclusion from Irish Olympic relay squad

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

JOANNA Mills has lodged an appeal with Athletics Ireland (AAI) over her non-inclusion in the 4x400m team for the London Olympics.

The Ballymena & Antrim teenager finished fourth at the European Juniors last year and has already met the tough qualifying standards for next week's World Junior Championships in Barcelona.

She got her first call-up for senior relay duty at last week's European Championships in Helsinki.

She did not get to run in Finland when the four who did were disqualified in their semi-final but Ireland still held their place (13th) in the world's top 16 teams who qualified for the Olympics.

When AAI named the relay team on Monday, they restored Jessie Barr to the squad, no surprise considering she reached the 400m hurdles final in Helsinki and was part of the 4x400m squad when they set the Irish record at the 2011 World Championships.

Kilkenny City Harriers' Caitriona Cuddihy, the other non-runner in Finland last week, held her spot for London and Mills lost out.

Mills' coach Ian Neely has pointed out that his athlete has run faster (54.41 seconds) than Cuddihy (54.59) this season.

"The (notification) email also referred to selecting athletes who have the potential to improve.

"Joanna is 19 while the six named women are in their mid-to-late 20s," Neely said.

"If a 19-year-old doesn't fall into the 'potential to improve' criteria then who does?"

Mills, who has a personal best of 53.89 from last year's European Juniors, said she was "totally disillusioned by the way I have been treated."

Athletics Ireland confirmed last night that they have received her appeal and will hear it as soon as possible.

Irish Independent

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