Upper Norwood weightlifter 'considering legal action' over Team GB decision
JO CALVINO says she is considering legal advice after not being picked for Great Britain's Olympic weightlifting team, blaming "politics" for the decision.
The Upper Norwood resident, 31, was left heartbroken after selectors chose people she believed performed worse.
And the recently crowned British 48kg champion says she has yet to receive, as promised, her governing body's full reasoning.
All five weightlifters selected are part of the sport's world-class performance programme, unlike Calvino.
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"I was always outside of their system, so it was always going to be a challenge anyway," reflected Calvino, who attained three B standards during the qualifying period.
"I don't agree with their decision on the selections and I'm waiting to receive the reasons on why my appeal was unsuccessful.
"I strongly believe they have failed to adhere to their selection policy."
Having found out last weekend, she said: "I'm still quite mad, but they've got to justify the money they've put into the performance programme, in Leeds."
She added: "I'm not the only athlete that's going through this process of appealing and never get their questions answered."
Calvino said she had friends in several Olympic sports and estimated there were "15-17 cases" going through "secret" appeals processes.
That is on top of world number one Aaron Cook's well-publicised appeal against GB Taekwondo's decision not to select him in favour of a competitor ranked 59th – who happens to be on world-class performance funding.
Having won the British trials, Calvino said: "We had to achieve the qualifying standard at both the Europeans and the British championships.
"We were always told we would need to win the British.
"Of the other two who were in contention, one achieved the B standard but came second and the ones they've selected didn't win.
"My view is, if the people they have selected can't get it right at the trials, with that pressure when there are no international competitors, what are they going to do at the Olympics when there is much more pressure?
"Are we really going to have our best team at the Games?"
Calvino, who has a diving background and is an aquatics development manager for GLL sports centres, says diving recognises that performances centres do not work for everyone.
Even in her own sport, Zoe Smith – whom Calvino believes can challenge for a medal – retains funding but has returned to her London roots instead of being based in Leeds.
"I was always told when I was young, there is more politics in sport than in politics itself.
"I never really got that then – and now I know what they mean.
"What makes it harder is telling friends and family and having to explain to them the reasons."
Not being in "the system" might have counted against her, she feels, but she added: "I'm more angry because I haven't had any reason, because I've done everything by the book."
She said she was getting "legal guidance" about pursuing a further appeal, but being so close to the Games – at the end of the July – does not realistically expect any such process to be resolved in time for the Games.
"It's time to move on, but every cloud has a silver lining. Everyone keeps telling me something good will come of it, but it doesn't feel like that right now. It's hard."
Calvino will nonetheless be at London 2012 – just not in the role she wanted, but as a volunteer in the weightlifting arena.
In a statement, Fiona Lothian, British Weightlifting's performance manager, told the Advertiser: "We understand that it must be disappointing for Jo not to be selected.
"We had some tough decisions to make but the selection policy was adhered to fully.
"There is nothing in the selection policy that said if you won the British Championships you were guaranteed selection."