Kane Radford has won his appeal to overturn Swimming New Zealand’s decision not to send him to Rio. Radford had been denied his Olympic place by the swimming federation despite qualifying at the FINA Olympic Qualifier in Setúbal, Portugal. Swimming New Zealand’s initial decision was based on the belief that Radford could not place in the top 16 at Rio – Radford was 30th in the World Championships in Kazan in 2015 and 19th in Portugal.
In appeal, however, the Sports Tribunal found in favour of Radford, stating that too much weight had been given to those two performances and more consideration should have been given to his other World Cup results and his third placing at the Pan Pacific Championship in 2015. Radford’s team also argued that his finish position in Portugal would have been higher if it hadn’t been for another swimmer’s tactics in the final 250m. That swimmer was subsequently disqualified.
Swimming New Zealand’s initial decision not to send Radford to Rio prompted an outcry on social media, including a petition to Swimming New Zealand and a fundraising page to help pay for Radford’s legal costs.
Jarrod Poort, the Australian open water swimmer who also qualified at Setúbal, was particularly vocal in his support of Radford: “You can’t treat and pick athletes in the open water like you would the pool. Openwater swimming is its own beast. Plus, not everyone on NZ swim team is ‘on paper’ capable of a top 16 finish.”
Following the Sports Tribunal decision, Swimming New Zealand stated “on the basis of the Sports Tribunal’s position, it was prudent to nominate Radford for selection.”
Swimming New Zealand chief executive, Christian Renford, said: “The data in Marathon Swimming is more open to conjecture and while our selectors had one position, Kane had another which was ultimately supported by the Sports Tribunal.
“Our selection criteria and process is open and transparent, and allows our swimmers the opportunity to appeal. We fully support the rights of both Kane and Charlotte to appeal.”
Charlotte Webby’s appeal, however, was not successful and she will not be swimming at Rio.
“While we feel for Charlotte in this case,” said Renford, “we will continue to support Kane through to Rio after investing significantly in his open water ambitions over the last three years since London.”
Radford will be the first New Zealand open water swimmer to represent his country at the Olympic Games since the marathon swimming event was introduced at Beijing.
“We congratulate Kane on his selection today and look forward to seeing him compete off Rio’s Copacabana coastline this August,” said New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith.