Posted on 13 March 2006 - 10:17
Australian team officials moved on Monday to defuse an ugly row after veteran Jamaican Sandie Richards launched a stinging attack on a fellow 400m runner under the wing of Olympic champion Cathy Freeman.
Richards, the Commonwealth Games 400m record holder, slammed Australia’s Tamsyn Lewis as a joke who attacks other athletes to draw glory and sponsorship after she called teammate Jana Pittman, a former world No.1 hurdler, “a bitch”.
“Jana shouldn’t be threatened by Tamsyn. She is a top-class athlete, way better than Tamsyn will ever be …,” Richards was quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper.
“Tamsyn called another athlete a bitch, how can you look up to a person like that? You lower yourself as a woman and an athlete to do that.”
Australian chef de mission John Devitt issued a statement to try and cool matters down, saying Pittman and Lewis were both “highly valued and well-performed members of the Australian team”.
He said both of them continued to have the support of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.
“Both girls have proved themselves at all levels in international competition, and the Australian team as a whole is looking forward to seeing them on the track, and successful, in Melbourne,” Devitt said.
“They have our complete support. As members of the 4x400m relay team they are more than just team-mates, they are united in a quest for success and we are united behind them.”
Freeman, who won the 400m gold medal at the Sydney Olympics but has now retired, is helping Lewis warm up before the opening race of the 400m here on Sunday.
The women’s 400m is shaping as one of the most anticipated of the Games with not just Lewis and Pittman in contention but also Olympic and world champion Tonique Williams-Darling from Barbados.
[PITTMAN FINISHED LAST :o IN THE AUSTRALIAN 400M TRIAL AND DID NOT QUALIFY FOR THE INIDVIDUAL 400M, ALTHOUGH SHE IS IN A 4X4 RELAY SQUAD]