Thursday, September 9, 2010

Steffensen quits Delhi Games in protest

Outspoken athlete John Steffensen has reportedly chosen to quit the Delhi Commonwealth Games team as a protest against Athletics Australia. Steffensen, a dual Games gold medallist at Melbourne in 2006, has stated he can no longer work with AA, what he called an "egotistical and outdated" body.
"I know some people will be saying 'OK, here goes John again'," he told News Ltd newspapers.
Advertisement: Story continues below"But this decision, it's going to cost me money, my reputation will take a hit and my chance of ever winning consecutive Commonwealth golds is gone.
"See, I love Australia. Love running for my country. But by sacrificing two years of my own preparations for these Games, I hope people understand how passionate I am about creating change for athletics in this country." Since he rose to prominence as part of Australia's silver-winning 4x400m relay team at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Steffensen has been known for his free speech and prickly relationship with officialdom.
In response to the reports, AA chief executive Dallas O'Brien said he had not received any formal notification. "Athletics Australia have had no official confirmation of John's withdrawal," he said in a statement. "(We) would be disappointed if Steffensen, the defending 400m champion, were not available to represent Australia in the 400m and the 4 x 400m relay in New Delhi." O'Brien said his organisations had made numerous attempts to meet with Steffensen and repair their differences, to no avail.
"John is supported by Athletics Australia's High Performance program and is a valued athlete," he said.
"He has been a member of our World Championship, Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams.
"Following the Selection Trials, and on a number of occasions since, John has been critical of Athletics Australia through the media. "We have made numerous attempts to arrange meetings with John to discuss his issues and his behaviour since April and have also offered to participate in an independent mediation process.
"Despite this, John has refused all efforts to meet with Athletics Australia to discuss his situation.
"It is extremely difficult to resolve any issues with an athlete that refuses to communicate directly."
Steffensen has argued that he was wrongly forced to compete at the selection trials after back surgery, despite having already run an "A" qualifying time.

Originally found at http://www.smh.com.au/sport/steffensen-quits-delhi-games-in-protest-20100909-151pq.html

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