Ace cyclist bitter over CSA snub

2012-06-30 00:00

TIME-TRIAL cycling ace Cherise Stander said she hoped her bid to overturn her rejection for the South African Olympic team would prevent the next generation of stars suffering from the same misfortune.

The multi-time South African champion and Beijing Olympian was omitted from the original three-rider women’s road cycling team selected by Cycling SA, despite being ranked as the country’s second-best women’s rider on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) points list, which had been key in the selection criteria.

Stander, from Umtentweni on the South Coast, is ranked 98th in the world. Yet she scored a mere 20 out of 50 in the selectors’ ratings and lost out to Joanna van de Winkel (ranked 138th) and Robyn de Groot (323rd), who were preferred to join South Africa’s number one women’s rider, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (23rd), in the team to go to London.

Stander’s appeal prompted a reselection, only for the team to remain unchanged. She insisted on her compliance with the criteria, that of merit exceeding Van de Winkel and De Groot, and her attorney, Peter Assenmacher, stated that Cycling SA had deviated from the communicated selection criteria.

Cycling SA, following a formal appeal hearing in Johannesburg last week, announced that they had upheld their decision. “Cycling SA confirms that after being faced with an appeal with respect to the exclusion of one of the women road cycling athletes, that the appeal board has made a final decision, which supports the original selection process used by Cycling SA and the decision made regarding the women’s road cycling team.”

The statement by the national cycling body said the appeal board had satisfied itself that the correct procedures were followed in making selections. “Strict guidelines exist when considering and selecting athletes to represent their country in any cycling discipline and Cycling SA are confident that the decision made by its selectors and endorsed by its board presents the best opportunity to bring home a medal.”

A dejected Stander said she had expected that Cycling SA would stand their ground. “We challenged all their reasons for the omission with facts, but I would have been very surprised if they overturned their decision, quite frankly. I’m bitterly disappointed, though.”

Stander said the decision had forced her to consider taking Cycling SA to court in order to resolve the matter prior to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s July 4 deadline to submit the final names to the International Olympic Committee.

While it might be too late for her to board the plane to London with the national squad, it was never just a personal agenda. “I wanted to put pressure on them not only for my own sake, but to ensure that a similar scenario doesn’t repeat itself and cost the next generation a chance of competing in the next Olym­pics and World Championships.”

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