Athletics: Gareth Warburton wins Olympic appeal

Gareth Warburton last night admitted he was “over the moon” after his appeal over non-selection for the Olympic Games was the only one of 11 to succeed.

Warburton was left out of the 77-strong team which was announced on Tuesday, having failed to achieve the second ‘A’ qualifying time he needed during last week’s European Championships.

However, the 29-year-old Welshman’s appeal was successful yesterday, meaning he joins Andrew Osagie and Michael Rimmer in the 800 metres in London.

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There was no such good news for the likes of Emma Jackson, Jemma Simpson and Marilyn Okoro, though, all three of whom appealed after being overlooked in the women’s 800m in favour of Lynsey Sharp.

“I’m over the moon,” Warburton said. “I had a missed call on my phone and had to call Ed Warner (chairman of UK Athletics and the chairman of the appeals panel) back and he told me I was on the team. I felt I had a good case, but I was not 100 per cent sure. I thought it was 50/50. My girlfriend and I went through the selection policy on the UKA website a million times and wrote the letter a thousand times. It was basically a one-page letter outlining my case. I had run an ‘A’ and ‘B’ time and others had been selected with one ‘A’ standard.”

Warburton, who was just 0.2 seconds away from achieving the qualifying time in Helsinki, said: “This is an incredible opportunity for me and I intend to make the most of it. I am joining a fantastic team of athletes and we’re all focused on doing Britain proud this summer.

“I was disappointed not to run the time in Helsinki. Hopefully they took into account it was a cold day and tough track and I had just run in the trials.”

Asked if he felt any extra pressure to perform in London now, Warburton added: “No, I don’t think so.

“It’s not as if I am keeping anyone out of the team and I felt I should have been there in the first place.”

Warner said: “We appreciate that this is a difficult time for athletes who were not selected to Team GB.

“Appeals are heard on a matter of process and facts and not opinion, and the panel considered 11 appeals today, of which only Gareth’s was successful. We ensure that the original selection committee has followed the selection criteria appropriately and have made their decisions based on full and correct facts.

“In the case of Gareth Warburton and in light of independent legal advice, the appeals panel decided that the combination of Warburton’s current ‘A’ and current ‘B’ standards made him selectable under the UKA selection policy and he has been added to the team.”

In the women’s 800m, Sharp was selected despite only having the ‘B’ standard, while Jackson, Simpson, Okoro and Jenny Meadows all had the ‘A’ standard. Meadows was the only one not to appeal after initially saying she definitely would.

Jackson, who was hampered by a rib injury when finishing seventh at the trials, wrote on Twitter: “Not too surprised that the appeal was rejected but I had to try. All I can do now is prove to everybody that I should have been in the team.”

Simpson also posted on similar lines, but added: “Good luck to @garethwarburton who fully deserves his place on the team after his appeal.”

UK Athletics would not release the names of the 11 athletes who appealed, although many had revealed via social networking sites that they had done so.

Sprinter Laura Turner wrote on Twitter: “It breaks my heart to announce that I will not be competing in London 2012. There are no words right now.”

And 200m runner Richard Kilty confirmed his appeal had also been turned down.

It is understood Jade Nicholls (discus), Eden Francis (shot), Hattie Archer (3,000m steeplechase) and Marlon Devonish (4x100m) also appealed.