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Last-ditch Sochi bid for Emily

Fans remind TeamGB of Olympic code ‘it is not only about winning but also about participating’ over her games plea

SUPPORTERS of outcast British ski-cross No1 Emily Sarsfield have called on TeamGB to stand by the International Olympics Committee’s own code and allow her to compete in next week’s Sochi Winter Games.

TeamGB dashed Emily’s hopes of representing her country by saying that she would not get “a credible result” despite her being the highest ranked Briton in her sport and despite her being invited to attend the games by the International Ski Federation as one of the world’s top 32 athletes.

Oliver Bellwood, who launched a petition that has so far gathered 7,200 signatures, said that TeamGB should remember the IOC’s core value, which state: “To give one’s best, on the field of play or in life. It is not only about winning, but also about participating, making progress against personal goals, striving to be and do our best in our daily lives…”

Former Loughborough student Emily, who lives in Méribel and trains with the French ski team, was refused a TeamGB place because she was not in the initial top 32 world athletes when the January 22 cut-off date was reached – but the ISF upped her ranking two days later, when injured and otherwise ineligible competitors were taken out.

She said it was an unpredictable sport and favourites could fall at the first jump and leave the races open: “I know I can do well but no one on the selection committee knows my sport and they have this blanket restriction on qualification. Anything can happen in ski-cross [which is like a downhill ski version of motocross] and I would have been in with a chance.”

Mr Bellwood said British Olympic officials had changed their selection criteria after the 2010 games in Vancouver – when Emily could not compete after injuring her knee – but they were “still unfit for purpose” as they denied “this self-funded athlete a deserved place at the Olympics".

The petition to support Emily’s bid is at www.change.org and supporters plan to hand it to the British Olympic Association as they say that the decision can still be changed. They want to reach 10,000 in the next few hours to give it more weight.

Previous article: TeamGB blow for skier Emily
Photo: Méribel - S NIGENTZ GUMUSCHIANl

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