Jemma Simpson has seen her appeal against her fall off the UK Athletics funding scheme eventually turned down by a panel involving head coach Charles van Commennee, meaning that she will most likely have to take a lonelier and tougher road to London next summer.

The three-time UK champion was surprisingly overlooked when the respective lists for the Olympic season came out last week as Jenny Meadows, Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson were preferred instead in the women’s 800m, amidst a wave of controversial decisions going either way across the board.

While the selection of Meadows was beyond any dispute on her excellent record, Simpson had serious grounds to feel hard done by as she still finished strong in a brace of 1:59.59 Olympic A qualifiers for third in the UK rankings off a largely curtailed season through injury, having also figured in the top three every single year since 2007.

Further, there were several athletes named in the top tier that have never achieved the A standard in their respective events and a certain case that didn’t show even a B as if to compound her disappointment.

An initial explanation given to her was that only three athletes per event could be selected, an apparent new clause inserted in the UK Athletics funding policy, but a closer look at the lists brought out five 400m and four 400m hurdles runners included instead. Later, it was also revealed that she was taken off funding after long consideration and eventual voting.

Now, whereas the flat one-lappers can be vindicated as serving also the purposes of the long relay, regarded as a strong medal prospect, the hurdlers are not directly related to that cause. Which is where Simpson should have probably built her case around.

As understood by the BBC story on the matter, she opted to highlight her world merit rankings in the top 10 in the previous two seasons and her progress through the international ranks into what is considered the peak age bracket in the event, underlying her promise.

But was that sufficient enough ground to mount her appeal? Although thorough and well-laid out, this is also considerably hypothetical and subjective and thereby highly unlikely to win her case.

She needed something to challenge the decision in its grounds and arguably one can’t help but wonder whether she did put her best card on the table. All the same, she could still take the matter further to an independent panel so all hope is not lost yet, but that could also affect her own efforts to prepare efficiently and thoroughly for the ‘Ultimate gathering’ of London 2012. So she has got to weigh up her options well before she makes up her mind, as herself admits.

“If I decide to take this further it will impinge on my preparation,” she commented. “With less than a year to the Games this is a stress I don’t need.

“My other option is to focus my energy on training harder than ever and look to build a longer lasting relationship with a private sponsor.”

BBC Report


Jemma’s thoughts in her latest blog on the ruling of the panel on her appeal, stressing “they failed to bring any facts to the table”:!.html