British Rhythmic Group Win Appeal!!

2:21 AM

The seven member squad of the British Rhythmic Gymnastics group - Jade Faulkner, Rachel Smith, Lynne Hutchinson, Georgina Cassar, Annie Bartlett, Francesca Fox and Louisa Pouli - are set to be Olympics bound. The group was initially denied the Host Country place after they scored 0.273 points less than the target score (45.233) on the second day of the Rhythmic Gymnastics competition at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event after one of their ribbons became knotted. The following day the group easily attained 47.200 - scoring over the benchmark which was set at 82% of the winning score that Italy posted at the 2011 World Championships. You can read the official statement from British Gymnastics by clicking here.

Below is the reaction from the Gymnasts, courtesy of The Telegraph which you can see in full here: 
An independent arbitrator agreed with the gymnasts after hearing evidence from both sides at a daylong hearing in central London last Thursday. All seven gymnasts attended the hearing, where they were represented by Michael Beloff QC.
The news that they had won their appeal was broken to them by their solicitor, Julian Santos, at their training base at the University of Bath yesterday morning. The women had earlier taken the decision to hear their fate together.
Team member Georgina Cassar said: “We were all very nervous beforehand and we’d all brought our lucky mascots and everything. Then Julian told us, ‘You’d better be training hard because you’ve won your appeal’. As soon as we heard that, we were all just screaming and crying. It was very emotional. We’re all feeling very elated. We were just hoping and praying for so long and finally our prayers have been answered.”
Rachel Smith, the team captain, said: “There were a lot of tears again but this time they were happy tears. The last six weeks have been very tough and stressful. We’ve all been thinking about the arbitration but we’ve all tried to carry on training.”
British Gymnastics said it accepted the arbitrator’s ruling and that it would now be nominating the group for selection for London 2012.
The British Olympic Association also confirmed that it would contacting the international gymnastics federation to accept a host-nation place for the Olympic competition, which takes place at the Wembley Arena from Aug 10-12. It will be the first time Britain has been represented in rhythmic gymnastics at a Games.
In his written judgment, arbitrator Graeme Mew said his decision had nothing to do with sentiment and was based purely on the lack of clarity of British Gymnastics’ selection policy document, which he described as “not well drafted”. He said: “The document is repetitive, it uses inconsistent terminology and has a certain ‘cut and paste’ appearance.”
Jane Allan, the chief executive of British Gymnastics, said she believed the policy had been “transparent, fair and equitable” but respected the rights of athletes to appeal against it.
The gymnasts say they are now looking forward to concentrating on training and competing in the run-up to London 2012, and they received a boost last weekend by setting a record score by a British rhythmic gymnastic group to win the Nordic Cup in Halmstad, Sweden. This weekend they will take part in trials for the European Championships in May.
The rhythmic group is entirely self-funded and the gymnasts have had to rely on the support of their parents to train full time in Bath for the past six months. It is understood that several anonymous benefactors helped fund their legal costs.
Smith, who gave evidence on behalf of her team-mates, said: “Emotionally, we’ve all seen sides of people that we haven’t seen before and I think we’re stronger now as a team mentally, and on the carpet as well. We want to prove to British Gymnastics that they’ve made the right decision in putting us forward.“We’re going to be training harder than ever before. We just want  to perform to our highest standard and keep on improving until the Games."

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