Jemma Simpson, surprisingly announced out of UK Athletics funding early this week, is planning to lodge an appeal against the decision so that she could be reinstated in the scheme for the massive Olympic season ahead.
A fifth placer at the European Championships in Barcelona last year, as well as a multiple sub 2 mins performer, the Mark Rowland-coached athlete endured a largely curtailed summer due to injury issues that saw her miss out on a place on the British team to the World Championships in Daegu.
Despite that far from ideal build-up, she rallied her strength and resources to come back and finish strong late into the season in the shape of two Olympic A qualifiers of identical 1:59.59, placing 3rd in Zagreb and fifth in Berlin respectively, as well as a comfortable international win at the Tangiers meeting in Morocco to display that she has lost none of her racing prowess.
Simpson runs a PB of 1:58.74 in Monaco last year
Nevertheless, her recent form book didn’t impress Charles van Commennee and his team who opted to name Jenny Meadows, Marilyn Okoro and world championships debutant Emma Jackson for three places in the podium funding over her.
Fair enough up to that point, it was admittedly a very close call. But looking at some of the names that have been put up in the ‘top flight’, Simpson has got every reason to feel hard done by at the receiving end of the verdict.
However, there could still be hope left for her to regain her place in the ‘grace of UK Athletics funding’. During her interview to BBC on the matter, she mentioned “but their rules are that they can only support three athletes per event on podium level funding and they’ve chosen three people ahead of me, so the chances are highly unlikely…” Well, not quite yet.
A closer look through the list at Podium level will reveal that there have been selected five 400m male runners – namely Martyn Rooney, Michael Bingham, Chris Clarke, Nigel Levine and Richard Strachan – as well as four male runners in the 400m hurdles – Dai Greene, Jack Green, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams.
The flat 400m runners could be justified as serving the purposes of the long relay, though one has got to wonder what the Relay Podium level is all about then, but the hurdlers are not directly related to that end.
Therefore, if there is indeed such a rule in place, there appears that it has been stretched or overstepped twice within the same frame, which would shape a firm ground for her to found her case and challenge the decision on a good chance of success.
So there looks plenty of the plot yet to be weaved on this front and let’s see what the future holds for her, while that could also pave the way for further appeals from other British athletes concerned. For the time being, Simpson remains focussed and pledges to keep pushing on with and accomplish her dream and main target, London Olympics 2012.