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Two shock omissions from the South African Olympic team are desperately trying to get their non-selections overturned in time to board the plane for London.
Cyclist Cherise Stander (nee Taylor) is the current South African and Africa time-trial champion and is clearly ranked as the country’s second-best woman on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) points list, which was supposedly the basis for team selection. Despite her ranking she was a shock omission from the three-woman squad chosen for the road race.
She has officially appealed against the decision. Her appeal was set for tomorrow, although it seems that it may now be delayed. But she is still hoping the team will be revised before the July 4 deadline.
In a similar case of a selection under debate, current African weightlifting champion Greg Shushu has been omitted from the team going to the Olympics despite a double gold medal performance at the African Championships.
Shushu’s success was responsible for Team SA earning a single lifter’s spot for the games, but he was told six days before Sascoc’s squad announcement that he was too old to be selected for London and Jean Greeff was picked to fill the weightlifting spot.
Shushu has taken his bid to get to the games a step further, with his legal representative, Howard Snoyman, requesting assistance from the London local organising committee.
According to a representative of Stander, cyclists were informed that the four main criteria used to select the women’s road racing team would be number of wins in World Cup events (no SA cyclist won a World Cup); World Cup rankings (only Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio earned World Cup ranking points); wins at overseas UCI-ranked races and ranking points from overseas UCI Women’s Tour events.
Stander, who took part in the Beijing Olympics, is currently ranked 98th in the world and seemed to comfortably fulfil all the selection criteria, so it was a shock on June 6 when Joanna van de Winkel (ranked 138th) and Robyn de Groot (323rd) were all selected ahead of her to join SA’s No 1, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (23rd), in the team headed for London.
Last week an independent Cycling SA commission met to investigate whether the selection criteria were followed. According to Stander’s attorney, Peter Assenmacher, one of the members of that meeting said that it had been accepted that the “selection criteria hadn’t been followed”.
A further reason Stander was expected to be selected for the Olympics was the individual time trial event. SA has only one spot in the time trial, but that rider must come from the road race team. Stander is without doubt the top female time trial rider in SA and won the 2012 national title by a massive margin.