Tuesday, June 19, 2012
THE battle to reverse a shocking Olympic snub to Plymouth diving ace Tonia Couch has taken a major step forward - but now she has been told she will have to pay £2,500 to continue the fight.
The sport star was denied a 10m individual platform place at London 2012, despite beating the athlete chosen to replace her at the recent Olympic trials.
The move sparked outrage in Plymouth and The Herald launched a petition which has been signed by more than 800 readers.
Now she has been granted the right to lodge a formal appeal but has been informed she will have to foot a legal bill to do so.
The row over the snub flared after Team GB chief Alexei Evangulov's decided to dump Tonia from the individual event in favour of Sheffield's Monique Gladding. She has been selected to compete in the synchro event at the Games.
Now, after pressure from Herald readers and Team GB coach Andy Banks, an appeal against the controversial decision has been granted.
In a press release British Swimming stated: '(We) can confirm an appeal by Tonia Couch for non-selection in the 10m individual platform diving event at the London 2012 Olympic Games has been granted Leave to Appeal.
'A hearing by an independent panel will be held in due course'.
The hearing will in fact be heard next week, with Mr Banks buoyed by the leave to appeal in order to 'right a wrong'.
But legal representation at the hearing will cost £2,500.
Mr Banks insisted he will find the money himself 'if I have to' but would like to set up a fighting fund so that Tonia's case and medal chances do not come unstuck because of lack of cash.
The coach, who is warm-weather training with Team GB in Majorca, said that to 'get this far means people inside British Swimming believe we have a good case'.
He told the Herald: "I am delighted that our appeal has got this far because it means we are in with a chance of reversing what is a wrong decision.
"They agree that Tonia hasn't been treated fairly and nor has the right person been chosen to win medals for this country.
"Now it goes to a three-person panel, who are completely independent of the sport, to decide as dispassionately as I was when I appealed, whether we have a strong case or not.
"I believe that we have and so do so many people like the readers of the Herald, whose support has been fantastic – it's very humbling and appreciated.
"This case has to be expedited by July 6 as that's when all Olympic athletes have to be in place.
"But if we don't succeed next week, then I'd consider taking it to the next level in sports appeals which I believe is in Geneva.
"If I have to find the money myself for the legal fees, then I shall.
"Tonia's case is about natural justice and also picking the best athlete to win a medal for our country.
"And I believe Tonia is."
Posted by Nitu at 23:52