JOHN Steffensen has accused Athletics Australia of racism after being overlooked for an individual 400m spot at the Olympic Games.
The Commonwealth Games champion last night launched a Twitter attack and threatened to boycott the Olympics after rising teenage star Steve Solomon was given the only available position.
And he did not let up this morning, appearing on Channel 9 and accusing AA of discriminating against him.
“I’ve put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams,” Steffensen said.
“It’d help if I was (a) different colour, then a lot of decisions with my federation would be totally different, but I’ve never brought that up, I’ve always kept quiet on that.”
“But it is the fact, it’s the way it is, but I live with it and I keep running and I keep representing my country and I keep winning Australian trials.”
Steffensen last night suggested he might withdraw from the Games, giving up his position in the 4x400m relay team.
“I dnt want no handouts cause I didn’t earn my spot!! But if they put another ath ahead of me then I’m pulling out the games!!” he tweeted.
It was always going to be a tough decision for the AA selectors as Steffensen and Solomon both had B-standard qualifying times, but had failed to run the A-standard which would have guaranteed selection.
Steffensen defeated Solomon in the Olympic trial in March before getting injured in the final of the Stawell Gift, with that hamstring injury coming back to haunt his London preparation.
While he has struggled, 19-year-old Solomon has excelled and won a bronze medal at the world junior championships in Barcelona on Friday in a personal-best time of 45.52sec - just 0.22sec outside the A-standard time.
Steffensen received confirmation of his non-selection via email from AA chairman of selectors Dion Russell.
The 29-year-old again indicated this morning he was reconsidering his future after the Games snub.
“Do you think I do this for fun? You think I waste my time running at training for fun? For this? No, they can have athletics, I don’t need to do this no more, I’m happy with my life,” he said.
“I followed the rules, I run trials, I win trials, I didn’t make the qualification. You never heard of me this last six months. I didn’t say nothing. I was going to run the relay and go home and do the right thing by the sport.”
“So now I’m saying something because they’re not doing the right thing by me and at age 30 and the amount of years and effort I’ve put into the sport and the medals and everything I’ve done for the sport, I deserve a little bit of respect.”
There are many who are predicting Solomon could become one of the best 400m runners in the world. “This kid is a gun,” leading coach Nic Bideau said.
Former Olympian and Channel 9 commentator David Culbert hasn’t ruled out Solomon being a factor in London.
“He certainly has all the goods to make the final, he’s that good,” he said.
Solomon was defeated by the Dominion Republic’s Luguelin Santos, who has won a number of races on the European circuit this year and, despite only being 18, is considered a medal threat in London.
Steffensen, who turns 30 next month, has never been selected for an individual 400m berth at the Olympics even though he has been to the past two Games as a member of the 4x400m relay team.