by Jim Wilson
March 07, 2008 12:00am
TRACK legend Raelene Boyle has backed Athletics Australia’s hard-line stance towards male sprinters for the Beijing Olympics.
Boyle says none of our men deserve a spot in the individual 100m and 200m in Beijing and has called on veteran sprinter Patrick Johnson to retire.
“I think he’s probably gone a couple of years too long. I like Patrick as a person but his performances are simply not up to scratch, let alone Olympic standard,” Boyle said.
“I think he should call it quits because his performance at the nationals was ordinary and the time has come to step aside.”
Johnson, the national 100m record holder, wants to be given the chance to recover from a hamstring strain suffered at last weekend’s Australian titles in Queensland.
Selectors have told four experienced athletes who were also overlooked for selection - pole vaulters Paul Burgess and Kym Howe, 1500m runner Sarah Jamieson and walker Jane Saville - they would be considered should they return to form following injury.
Johnson’s manager Clive Stephens said today the 35-year-old sprinter wanted to be included in that category.
“All we are asking is give us a chance,” Stephens told ABC radio.
“He has been injured, he is one of the better athletes, give us some time to show a return to form.”
Athletes overlooked for selection have until this afternoon to lodge appeals with Athletics Australia.
Boyle supported the national federation’s decision to also snub Matt Shirvington and embattled star Joshua Ross, who missed last week’s selection trials because of poor form and personal issues.
“I would say his (Shirvington’s) hopes of representing Australia in the individual events at an Olympics are now gone,” Boyle said.
“As far as Josh goes . . .he needs to sort his life out away from the track.”
Boyle says male sprinting stocks are at an all-time low.
But [b]she is hopeful Commonwealth 400m champion John Steffensen - who has won Olympic selection - will use last week’s defeat at the selection trials to turn around his preparations.
“He’s just got to shut his mouth and get on with the job, of making the final in Beijing,” she said.
“He’s extremely talented but hasn’t fired a shot really since winning the gold medal in Melbourne at the Commonwealth Games.”[/b]
[OH, OUCH! SPOKEN LIKE A THREE-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALLIST - kk:p ]