100m champ Macrozonaris not selected to Canadian team

By Chris Galakoutis
Thursday, August 2 2007 11:00:18 PM

Athletics Canada has announced its team for the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, to be held later this month in Osaka, Japan. A rather notable name missing from the list is that of 100m sprinter Nicolas Macrozonaris.

Fans of Canadian and Hellenic track might well recall that Macrozonaris, a Canadian of Greek heritage, had a well publicized spat in 2005-2006 with the Canadian track & field federation over the issue of funding. But with his funding re-instated in late 2006, it appeared both sides had resolved their differences.

But yesterday it was learned that Macrozonaris had not been selected for either the 100m or 4x100m relay team for Osaka. This despite winning the 100m national championship at the selection trials in Windsor last month, as well as holding one of the top-6 fastest 100m times among Canadians – the measuring stick that has traditionally been used to pick relay runners (he ran 10.29 at the Quebec provincial championships last weekend, meeting Athletics Canada’s selection cut off date of July 29).

It is worth pointing out however that the Montreal sprinter, now training in Edmonton with coach Kevin Tyler, has only run one IAAF “B” qualification standard (A:10.21 & B:10.28) in the last two seasons. He ran 10.28 at the Canadian championships semi-finals in 2006. A 100m berth at Osaka would therefore have been difficult to envision under the IAAF rules.

But not having a current 100m qualifying standard does not automatically exclude a runner from the relays, as evidenced by Athletics Canada’s other relay runner selections.

Contacted earlier today, Macrozonaris seemed resigned to his fate, a far cry from his outspoken and highly critical approach during his carding ordeal, one that saw both parties tending to bumps and bruises after year-long jabs at each others eyeballs.

“I am disappointed that I’m not going to worlds, but I have to keep working hard and continue winning at nationals and hopefully I’ll get my break,” he said.

“I hope the team does well and I am looking forward to contributing in 2008.”

One possible explanation for Macrozonaris’ exclusion from the relay squad might be that he was not even a part of the ‘national team relay eligibility pool’ to begin with – inclusion therein being mandatory in order to be considered eligible for selection to a relay team.

In a post to his personal website from February 2006, Macrozonaris wrote that he was taking “time out from the 4x100 metre relay program,” this after his selection earlier that month to the relay squad for the Commonwealth Games in Australia. Macrozonaris did not compete at those games and it appears he might have been removed from the relay pool since that time.

However, Macrozonaris said he approached relay coach Glenroy Gilbert this past spring and told him he was once again willing to practice with the relay squad, making himself available at the Harry Jerome track classic as well as at least one other event that Macrozonaris competed in. According to the runner, he was never asked to practice with the team despite both being present at those locations at the same time.

Upon initial review, the ‘relay eligibility pool’ rules do not appear to come with a transparent set of objective criteria. In addition, a link to further information on the subject at Athletics Canada’s website was broken. Emails to Athletics Canada head coach Les Gramantik and relays coach Glenroy Gilbert, seeking comment and clarification, had not been returned by our post deadline.