Games over before they start for Smith
Shianne Smith, the Bermuda hepthalete, has been cut from the Pan Am Games after new qualifying standards were set to trim the amount of track and field athletes competing in Toronto.
Smith believed she was bound for Toronto up until three days ago, having met the original standards set more than a year ago, which had more than 1,100 athletes qualify.
Amendments were made to the qualifying standards two weeks ago by the Association of Pan American Athletics (APA) to reduce the number of athletes to 680.
Bermuda athletes Cheria Morgan, the 100 metres sprinter, as well as 800 runners Shaquille Dill and Aaron Evans also fell foul of the revised changes, but were reinstated after an appeal was lodged by the Bermuda Olympic Association.
Smith, who is based in Montpellier, had geared her whole season to peaking in Toronto and said that the late changes had left her feeling as though she had been “robbed of her season”. Her family had planned to travel to Toronto to support her.
Judy Simons, the BOA president, said she felt heartbroken for Smith and believed it was disgraceful for a such a decision to be made at the eleventh hour.
“It’s totally unacceptable and my heart bleeds for Shianne,” Simons said. “She deserves to be here and it’s a very unfortunate situation that she’s missed out.
“The qualifying quota was exceeded and Bermuda, as well as many other smaller countries, got heavily penalised,” she said. “We made an appeal and we got three of our guys back.”
The revised standards have decimated some of the Caribbean island’s track and field teams at the Pan Am Games.
Eight Jamaica athletes have been denied the opportunity to compete in Toronto, while five from the US Virgin Island and nine from the British Virgin Island have also been left at home.
Larger countries, such as the United States, were largely unaffected by the standards. In addition, Canada, as the host nation, has two automatic qualifiers per event.
Carlos Lee, the chef de mission, also hit out at the APA and accused them of penalising the smaller countries.
“We almost lost our entire team and luckily we were able to reinstate most of them,” he said.
“They had more numbers than they could handle, but the way they went about it was all wrong.
“They penalised all of the small countries. Shianne met the standard that was set for her but they changed them at the last minute.”
Smith set a personal best in her first meet of the season at the Championship of Provence in Aubagne, France, in May. Competing for Le Montpellier Agglomeration Athletic Mediterranee, she accumulated 5,400 points to shatter her previous best national record by two points.
The 29 year old moved to Montpellier in 2012 in a bid to further her career after spending several years training in California, where she attended Cal State University.
She represented Bermuda at the previous Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, finishing tenth, and last summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she placed eighth.
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