Sport

Paralympic parody? Quota system ousts J’can duo from Games

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012    

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BEDFORD, England — Disappointed and demoralised are the emotions being expressed by Jamaican Paralympic athletes Shane Hudson and Toni Greaves after the International Paralympic Council (IPC) on Monday evening confirmed they would not take part in the 14th Paralympic Games set to start in London next week.

Hudson, who won a silver medal in the 400m at the Parapan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, last year and was sixth in the 200m, said he is thinking of giving up the sport, while Greaves, a newcomer who won the F54 javelin at the US Trials in June, said she was "devastated".

The London Games are the largest ever and have been "oversubscribed", Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) president, Christopher Samuda told the Jamaica Observer.

As such, they were given a quota of three athletes which they only heard about days before leaving Jamaica.

Organisers here say the Games are already a big hit and over two million tickets to the events have been sold and another 45,000 were released earlier last week.

For the first time in the event's 60-year history, several events have already been sold out, with tickets going much faster than organisers anticipated.

Samuda said a decision was taken to enter the three veterans Tanto Campbell, Alphanso Cunningham and Sylvia Grant — all medal contenders — while seeking audience with the IPC here to see if they could get the other three in.

Samuda said he would be arguing at the next General Council of the IPC that they adopt an Olympic style qualifying format and do away with the quota system as it went against the 'triumph over adversity' theme of the Paralympics and disabled competitions.

There is a sixth athlete, 18-year-old St George's College track and field representative Javon Campbell, who is awaiting a medical appeal on Friday after he was deemed "too strong" for his class.

Campbell's left arm from the elbow down is disabled, but strength is tested from the shoulder and the medal assessment says he is stronger than the athletes in his category.

Meanwhile, both Hudson and Greaves will stay on for the Games but are disappointed they will not compete after putting in months of training.

Hudson, whose left arm is amputated below the elbow, started competing in the disabled competition in 2009 and has since competed at the Commonwealth Games and the Pan-American competition. He told the Observer he is now seriously rethinking his continuation in the sport.

"When I get home I will seriously need to sit down and think about this," he said even as the IPC World Championships are set for France next July.

"I'm in good shape now and I know I could medal in both the 200m and 400m if I was allowed to run," he said, adding he had won his heat at the Camperdown Classics in February, running

48-plus seconds.

The 26-year-old who trains with the Racers Track Clu said: "It is hard coming all this way and making all this sacrifice and not be able to run."

The 26-year-old Greaves, who lives at Weymouth Drive in Kingston and who has been competing in the javelin for just over a year after first taking

part in disabled cricket, echoed her teammate's sentiments.

"Words cannot explain how I feel right now," she said. "So much hard work that went into this and the sacrifices by Mr Samuda (Christopher, president of the JPA) for us to get here and now this."

Greaves had her hopes lifted only for it to be dashed as at first she was told she was on a standby list in the event any athlete dropped out, but was told Monday she was definitely out.

"I am devastated," she said, explaining that her training was off a bit after competing with Campbell at the US Trials to gain experience. However, she said since training at a pre-Games camp at the University of Bedfordshire, she was close to her personal best of 13.69m that she threw to win her event at the US Trials held in Indianapolis.

Unlike Hudson, however, Greaves is not ready to think about throwing in the towel yet, but said she still hopes something will work out that she gets to compete with the best in her sport at the highest level.

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