Australia has selected its fourth largest athletics team ever for an Olympic Games, with the chance that the number may still grow.
The originally named team of 54 athletes will be bolstered to 55 with the nomination of Genevieve LaCaze
, and is impressive in number behind the teams for Sydney
(2000 - 86 athletes), Melbourne
(1956 - 76 athletes) and Atlanta
(1996 - 60 athletes).
With the Australian Olympic Committee extending the selection deadline until 7 July, when international entries close, there are opportunities for athletes who were not originally selected to force their place in the team.
Among them is former world indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre
, who requires the IAAF A-qualifier of 8.20m to be selected. No stranger to selection appeals (Lapierre was added to the 2008 team after appealing his original non-selection), it is understood that Lapierre had lodged an appeal
with Athletics Australia over his non-selection despite the fact that he could not yet be nominated. It's the prudent thing to have done in light of the situation Jeff Riseley
found himself in four years ago in Beijing, and preserved the opportunities for further appeal while still chasing the qualifying distance. Lapierre is a world class athlete who on his day can produce brilliance, and who every Australian fan of athletics hopes can qualify.
Some other athletes had always planned to compete post Athletics Australia's cutoff date, in the the hope that an A-qualifier would see a similar result to what Riseley, and now LaCaze, have achieved in gaining selection.
There are a few athletes who had not gained selection and who had given up hope at the closure of Athletics Australia's qualifying period, who now have a further opportunity to be selected in the team. It was these athletes that athletes Athletics Australia gave most consideration to in its initial decision not to select LaCaze. They now have further opportunities to qualify.
The following yet to be selected athletes (in individual events) are among those understood to compete before the AOC deadline:
- Fabrice Lapierre
- Steven Solomon
- Tamsyn Manou
- Lachlan Renshaw
- Victoria Mitchell
- Kerrie Perkins
However, it may not all be potentially good news for the Olympic team, with three relay runner's Olympic dreams hanging in the balance as they wait to see whether the women's 4x100m relay team will retain it's top 16 ranking. Jessica Knox
, Charlotte van Veenendaal
and Hayley Butler
will have an anxious wait to see that they are not overtaken by European teams before the IAAF's 2 July cut-off for relays. If any of these teams runs the following times Australia will lose their place for London:
- Poland - 43.70
- Switzerland - 43.66
- Belgium - 43.64
It will be an interesting time ahead to see how many athletes can capitalise on the Australian Olympic Committee's deadline. Inside Athletics wishes them the best in their endeavours and hopes to see, as we have all along, the largest possible Olympic team compete in London.