Swimmers and supporters of Kane Radford and Charlotte Webby have taken to social media following Swimming New Zealand’s controversial decision not to send Radford and Webby to Rio, despite both qualifying at the FINA 10km Olympic qualifier in Setúbal, Portugal.
The top ten finishers in Setúbal qualified for the Olympics. Despite finishing 19th and 31st respectively, Radford and Webby earned their places in the continental selection, where FINA offered one place to the leading swimmer from each of the five regions not already qualified.
But Swimming New Zealand “were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence that either of the swimmers is capable of achieving the published nomination criteria which is that an individual swimmer must be capable of achieving a top 16 placing at the Games with the potential to win an Olympic Diploma (top eight placing).”
Australian rival Jarrod Poort took to Facebook in an impassioned plea to Swimming New Zealand to overturn their decision:
“He like myself qualified fair and square last week in Portugal. Kane finished 30 seconds behind a podium position in a field that contained the previous Olympic champion. Not bad aye..
“Not good enough apparently, according to NZ swimming. The reason they are not going to take him to Rio is because they consider him to not be competitive enough. You are kidding! Over 10km 28sec behind the previous Olympic champ not competitive? I’ve raced Kane many times and he’s always been competitive, I’ve been beaten by Kane many times and had some epic battles with him! So for them to say that you wouldn’t be competitive is bullshit man, myself and many of your other competitors know your fricken more than competitive!”
Radford also took to Facebook following Swimming New Zealand’s decision:
“I am going through a real tough time but would just like to say a huge thanks to everyone out there for the support.
“It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
A Facebook page called ‘Let’s get Kane Radford and Charlotte Webby selected for Rio 2016’ has been created and a change.org petition has already garnered over 3,000 signatures, including US Olympic swimmer Alex Meyer, who tweeted: “Get Kane & Charlotte to Rio! Come ON, @SwimmingNZ , support and invest in your top athletes! This is a no-brainer.”
According to the Rotorua Daily Post, Radford has made initial contact with Swimming New Zealand through Auckland barrister John Munro, who believes that Radford has “good grounds for appeal.”
Sign the Change.org petition.