Advertiser: South Marston gymnasts Olympic selection

Swindon Advertiser ran an article regarding a Swindon gymnasts selection for this years Olympics:

A TEENAGER from Swindon cried tears of joy yesterday after receiving the news that her rhythmic gymnastics team will be allowed to make history at the 2012 Olympics.

Jade Faulkner, 18, had been waiting anxiously for a decision over whether the squad should have been excluded for taking three days instead of two to reach a qualifying standard at a test event.

The team easily achieved the score but British Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, refused to nominate them for the Games, and the team appealed to an arbitrator.

Jade’s father Roger, 55, said: “It’s fantastic. Jade was pretty emotional and there were a few tears when she heard. They train 42 hours a week and deserve to be on the international scene. It’s a great feat for a teenager to accomplish.”

Jade will be the first gymnast from Swindon to compete in the group event and the squad will be the first ever British competitors to take part.

At the weekend the team registered a score of 49.88 at a competition in Sweden – way above the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.223.

Mr Faulkner, from South Marston, said: “They have been competing against teams who have been eating, breathing and working together for years. I just hope she gets there without any injuries. It will be pretty emotional to see her taking part.”

Deb Hows, head rhythmic gymnastics coach at Esprit Swindon, where Jade’s talent was nurtured, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic news, we’re over the moon. The improvement they have made in the last six months has been staggering and it goes without saying that they deserve a place at the Olympics.”

Jade and her six team-mates attended a meeting at their Bath training base yesterday, where they were told by their legal representative that they had won the appeal.

British Gymnastics had told them they had fallen short of the selection target on the opening two days of a test event held at the O2 Arena in January. They achieved it on day three, but the body refused to put them forward.

The squad took their case to arbitration on the grounds that they had never been told about the time limit.

The gymnasts will now be nominated to the British Olympic Association, with selection virtually assured to the 550-strong GB squad.

British Gymnastics’ chief executive officer Jane Allen said in a statement: “British Gymnastics respects the rights of its athletes to appeal selection procedure. We were confident that we had put in place a transparent, fair and equitable selection policy and associated qualifying score to allow a rhythmic group to self-determine their nomination to the BOA and subsequent participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games.”


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