Friday 23 February 2018

Cuddihy insists selection appeal 'nothing personal' against Mills

IT wasn't personal. That was the strong message from Kilkenny athlete Caitriona Cuddihy yesterday after she was reinstated to the Olympic 4x400m team at the expense of Ulster teenager Joanna Mills.

Mills (19) and her coach Ian Neely are still discussing their only remaining option, which is to take her case to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which, during the Olympics, will set up a temporary office in London to expedite any related hearings.

Cuddihy (pictured) was originally selected but then dropped when Mills successfully appealed her non-selection. However, the Kilkenny Harriers athlete's counter-appeal to the Olympic Council of Ireland has reversed that decision just three days before the London 2012 opening ceremony.

"I know how Joanna is feeling, it is awful to lose out and I really wish we could all have gone," Cuddihy said. "We shared a room together for a week last month at the European Championships.

"I sought out and spoke to her coach last weekend at the club championships. This was absolutely nothing to do with Joanna, it wasn't personal.

"It was about the decision of Athletics Ireland's appeal committee to overturn the original selection which I thought was seriously flawed."

Mills also said yesterday she was "very disappointed with the way Athletics Ireland have handled this".

"A strong emphasis seems to have been placed on commitment to the relay team by the high performance director of AAI (Kevin Ankrom) when making his final considerations," the Ballymena & Antrim runner said.

"He seems to have not considered that I tried to contact and set up a meeting with him regarding the relay in December 2011."

"And that when he finally did contact me in May, I made a full commitment to the team by changing my plans for the rest of the season -- and particularly my preparations for the World Junior Championships -- by attending the European Championships and participating fully in the relay practices.

"I felt I had shown a consistency of performance last year and so far this year to warrant a place, without the need for arbitration," Mills added. "But performance seems to have been lost in this process."

She spoke after completing a training session at the Antrim Forum track yesterday and said the relay debacle had only made her "want to channel my determination even more."

Cuddihy had continued to train even after getting dropped initially, self-funding a week's warm-weather training in Spain recently, and she will fly to join the Irish team's training camp in London tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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