TA gives Snowsill Olympic snub

The Australian Associated Press, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Courier Mail of Australia reported today that Triathlon Australia left defending Olympic gold medalist Emma Snowsill off the 2012 Olympic Triathlon squad and chose Erin Densham and 20-year-old Emma Jackson to join previously selected Emma Moffatt on the women’s team in London.

According to the Australian Associated Press, Snowsill filed an appeal against the nominated team within the 48 hours allotted after the June 1 decision.

Triathlon Australia said that such an appeal would be heard by an independent three-person Olympic Appeals Tribunal, chaired by David Grace of Queensland with Paul Hayes and Melissa Ashton-Garard.

Snowsill was the reigning ITU World Champion when Triathlon Australia selectors left her off the 2004 Australian Olympic Triathlon team in favor of 20-year-old Maxine Seear, who had 1st and 2nd place finishes in Australia’s two Olympic selection events. Seear DNF’d at Athens while Snowsill went on to win three ITU World Championships, a Commonwealth Games gold, an ITU World Championship Series Grand Final gold, two wins at Hy-Vee, three wins at Life Time Fitness and a dominating gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Snowsill has been fighting a glandular fever and a hip injury in the past three years, and contracted a virus in March which left her at sub-optimal fitness for the three latest World Triathlon Series races in which she finished 14th and third Australian at Sydney, 17th and fifth Australian at San Diego. When healthy in 2010, Snowsill won Hy-Vee and the ITU World Championship Series Grand Final. In 2011, Snowsill placed 3rd at Hamburg and 5th at London in World Championship Series event.

Jackson made a smashing debut on the WCS circuit last year, placing 2nd at Hamburg and 4th at London and was first Australian and 4th overall in the WCS season long points standings.

However, Jackson faded badly in early 2012 WTS races, placing 33rd and fifth Australian at Sydney, 14th and fourth Australian at San Diego and DNF’d at Madrid.

In their men’s Olympic selection, Triathlon Australia chose veteran Courtney Atkinson and up and comer Brendan Sexton to join previously nominated Brad Kahlefeldt on the team, leaving off 1997 ITU World Champion and two-time Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack, Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie and Drew Box.

Recent performances by the Australian men’s Olympic contenders have not been encouraging. Atkinson passed on Australian qualifying races in Sydney and Madrid and finished a modest 13th, albeit top Australian, at the San Diego WTS race. Sexton, who had a promising 2011 season after recovering from extensive facial injuries suffered in a 2009 crash, has been dismal so far in 2012 World Triathlon Series events with a DNF at Sydney, 56th in San Diego and 31st in Madrid.

Kahlefeldt’s 2012 season has also been worrisome as he suffered lesions on his lung last month after the San Diego race, where he finished 26th and is still recovering.