Oly: No more Eric the Eel, says Rogge Oly Wildcard
LONDON, May 27 AAP - Farewell Eric the Eel, Eddie theEagle and other aspiring but incompetent Olympichopefuls.
The International Olympic Committee is ending itssystem of offering wild card entries to smallercountries to encourage greater participation in sports.
That means no more like Eric Moussambani, a strugglingswimmer from Equatorial Guinea, who recorded one of theslowest Olympic times over 100m in history at Sydney in2000 - at one stage looking like he might drown.
His hugely popular swim turned him into aninternational celebrity but the IOC was not amused.
We want to avoid what happened in Sydney,'' IOCpresident Jacques Rogge told British newspaper TheGuardian. The public loved it, but I did not like it.
The Olympic Games are a mixture of pure quality -that is, the best athletes in the world, and at the sametime athletes of a lesser quality who achieveuniversality. In the past, we made the error to select theseathletes at the last moment.
A country would say, `We have no qualified athletes,can we bring in a wild card?' And these athletes werenot good enough.'' Wild card entries have a record of delighting thepublic but embarrassing officials. The British Olympic Association introduced stricterselection criteria after Eddie the Eagle’’ Edwardsfinished 56th out of 57 with an inept display of skijumping at the 1988 Winter Games.
Former Kenyan runner Philip Boit entered thecross-country skiing event at Nagano in 1998, finishinglast but inspiring skiers from Fiji and Cameroon tocompete at Salt Lake City last year.
The IOC will in future ask smaller countries to selecttheir most talented athlete, who will then be giventechnical expertise and financial help to prepare.
This is the final nail in the coffin of the Olympicideal, which has been slowly being eroded for a while,''Edwards told the paper. The public enjoy watching these people. They makethe games more human and interesting.
``It is going against the grain of the Olympics todeprive people who are the best in their country at aparticular sport of the opportunity of taking part.’’
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