Athletics Canada Statement Regarding Selection of 2005 World Cross Country Team
Friday, March 11, 2005
OTTAWA Earlier this week, several media outlets reported on a story released through Canadian Press concerning three athletes who were not named as members of the 2005 World Cross Country team.
Below is some background information on Athletics Canada and the rationale behind the decision-making process for selection to this team.
Commitment to Excellence
In 2002, Athletics Canada, which is made up of athletes, coaches, volunteers and administrators from across the country, adopted a new mission: the pursuit of leadership, development and competition that ensures world-level performance. As a result, our national team governing philosophy supports this new focus by ensuring that our resources, programs and decisions help us achieve our mission. From a national team perspective, our goal is to support sporting excellence at the highest level possible; with the best preparation possible. For all major world championships events and multi-sport games, Athletics Canada is committed to ensuring that specific and optimal preparation is put in place for all of its teams. Athletics at the world level is a high performance, professional game and we need to plan and prepare accordingly.
World Cross Country Championships Team Competition
The World Cross Country Championships have been defined as basically a team competition by the IAAF, the world governing body of athletics. Team scoring is determined by adding up the positions of the first four athletes who cross the finish line from each country. The teams are then ranked from the lowest to the highest number of points. The team with the lowest number of points wins the team competition.
In the area of world cross country running, Athletics Canada has made a conscious decision to focus on competing at the highest level possible in the team competition of the World Cross Country Championships. One of the big keys to ensuring success for this team is spending time together. Therefore, in order for Canada to perform at its very best, it was determined by the head coach and supported by the associations national team committee, that full attendance at the final phase preparation camp would be consistently applied to all athletes.
The Selection Procedure
The selection process and travel requirements for the 2005 World Cross Country Championships were widely circulated to athletes and coaches on October 22, 2004, and included the following text:
By accepting a position on the 2005 World Cross Country Championships Team the athlete agrees to fully participate into both the preparation camp and the Championships project itself. By accepting a position on the 2005 World Cross Country Championships Team the athlete also agrees to travel on the official traveling dates.
As you can see, it was clearly articulated that full participation would be required in the world championship competition AND the final phase preparation camp in France, the duration of which is 10 days, from March 12 to 21.
During the selection process, three athletes made requests that they travel on different dates from those published in the selection document, thereby missing the final phase preparation camp. The three requests were rejected. Two of the athletes made a formal appeal to the Athletics Canada national team committee which was subsequently rejected. The final ruling from the committee included the following statement:
The Committee came to the unanimous decision to reject the alternative traveling dates appeal based on the nature of the project, the published criteria, the information that has been consistently and clearly communicated to all athletes and finally in all fairness to the other athletes.
The three athletes chose not to appeal the national team committee's decision to Athletics Canada's secondary appeals panel as is their right according to Athletics Canada's rules and bylaws. The three athletes instead chose to remove themselves from the selection process for participation inthe 2005 World Cross Country Championships project following the ruling of the national team committee.
A full team complement of 35 athletes has been selected for the 2005 World Cross Country Championships team, made up of 6 junior males, 6 junior females, 5 long course women, 6 long course men, 6 short course women, and 6 short course men.
Final Phase Preparation Camp
The final phase preparation camp has many important objectives and is one of the keys to developing Canadas long term plan for the world cross country championships.
Teambuilding. The camp brings together athletes from Vancouver to Halifax so that they gel into a cohesive unit ready for optimal performance.
Acclimatization. The camp enables athletes to overcome jet lag and travel fatigue.
Focus. The camp allows athletes to concentrate in an optimal environment and mentally prepare for the championships.
Education. Medical and training/prep seminars are held for team members. Aside from the World Racewalking Cup, this is the only national team where juniors and seniors are together at the same time. Top athletes are able to share their wisdom and inspire junior athletes.
Rookie preparation. The combined camp and competition is deemed as an excellent rehearsal for young up and coming athletes who need to experience what it is like to travel, prepare and compete in Europe, one of the biggest centres of world athletics.
Commitment to the National Team
Our coaches, administrators, volunteers and officials who work toward a successful national team program are totally committed to providing programs and services that support our athletes, our coaches, their training, their preparation and their competition. We recognize the many sacrifices that everyone makes when they are involved in the business of high performance sport.
Athletics Canadas official national team (athletes who receive financial assistance for training and competing from the federal government, also known as carding) is made up of 120 highly dedicated athletes (81 able-bodied athletes and 39 athletes with a disability). The youngest is 17 and the oldest is 46. Many of these people are parents.
Commitment to Athletes Who are Parents
Athletics Canada continually strives to assist athletes who are parents. We firmly believe that it is possible to be both a high performance athlete and a parent. The associations 2008 Strategic Plan has a specific target result that all world championship teams have services to assist parents who travel with children. Daycare assistance was offered at last years World Cross Country Championships and we are always looking into ways that will make it easier for parent-athletes to travel with the team. This is currently dealt with on an athlete-by-athlete basis.
Post 2004 World Cross Country Championships Report
Following last years 2004 World Cross Country Championships, Athletics Canada conducted an analysis and review of the teams experience in order to improve performance for subsequent years. This is standard procedure for all teams. In the case of the 2004 championships, three athletes on Team Canada were allowed to miss the camp and arrive directly into the competition site, three days before the championships. Through the post-event report process we learned that this had a negative effect on team members. It was strongly urged that all athletes be treated consistently with regards to 100% attendance on this particular tour, due especially to the team focus of the event. To allow someone to arrive late sends a message of inequality to other members of the team who have made the full commitment to the program.
In any given year, Athletics Canada organizes and sends as many as ten or more teams of athletes and coaches totaling 500 people to represent Canada abroad in the disciplines of track, field, road-running and cross-country running. Due to the fact that there are limited funds available for all our national team programs, a self-funding policy exists whereby athletes use some or all of their own money to pay for a trip to a competition. The self-funding model is supported by our membership and our provincial athletics associations based on the principle that it is better to provide opportunity than to eliminate it altogether due to the fact that it cannot be fully funded. Our goal is to support athletes to the highest level possible in their quest for international excellence.
The decision to turn down the athletes requests to change their travel date was not intended to be exclusionary. It was made in an effort to ensure that the best possible conditions exist for our team to compete at the highest level possible at this important world championship. We value and appreciate our athletes and our coaches as they pursue their dream to represent their country at the world level. We, as an association, are committed to their continual support by providing them with the best possible services and utilizing all available resources.
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