female qualifier forces selection dilemma, Ron
Reed - 12th Feb 2008
is poised to field a female wrestler at the Olympics
for the first time - but might have to fight an
international political battle to get her to Beijing.
doctor Kyla Bremner, 30, qualified for selection
at the Oceania trials in Canberra at the weekend,
but needs the sport's world controlling body,
FILA, to approve her participation ahead of other
grapplers, all but one of them male.
neither the Australian Wrestling Union nor the
Australian Olympic Committee can say how FILA
will decide, because its selection process is
there are no male or female selection quotas for
could do it by some scientific process or they
could pull it out of a hat - we don't know, and
I haven't been able to find out," AWU president
John Saul said yesterday.
have never been comfortable with this process
and I can see it developing into a s..tfight if
they do not have some logical way of going about
director of sport Fiona de Jong is also frustrated.
has failed to provide us with the information
and this is not how it should work. Athletes need
a clear pathway -- and . . . they haven't got
is not the only one on tenterhooks. Nine Australian
men are among 14 contenders for seven spots for
the Oceania region.
decision is expected by week's end. Saul said
he would not be surprised if those who miss out
go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Jong said the AOC would support that, but felt
the AWU should pursue the case on the wrestlers'
is the tangled scenario that the AOC dreads every
four years, and which president John Coates has
spent a decade trying to circumvent.
a fight develops, it will be a case of the mouse
is an absolute minnow on the Australian Olympic
scene, bereft of money or clout.
the men are minnows, the women are plankton. Saul
says there are no more than a dozen competitors,
and only four entered the trials. Two were rejected
because they had insufficient form, and in her
48kg division Bremner had to beat a Ukrainian
competing for New Zealand.
other woman is on the short list -- Mario Dunn,
from Guam. Two of the 12 male contenders are from
Palau, population about 20,000, and one is from
wrestling was introduced at Olympic level in Athens
four years ago, when no Australian was good enough
to be considered.
said yesterday the lack of competition was a major
problem, forcing her to train with boys - although
competing across the gender barrier is illegal
she spends all her spare money travelling overseas
in search of opponents.
trying gymnastics, track and field and soccer,
she took up wrestling 14 years ago because it
looked like fun - and has been dreaming of the
Olympics ever since.
she's almost there, but pinning it down is proving