According to her facebook page, New Zealand’s Cara Baker has been denied a spot in the Olympic 10km swim at the London Olympics that she earned this morning in Setubal, Portugal.
Baker finished 17th in the open water 10km swim, and as the top finisher from Oceania was extended a “quota invite” from FINA to the Olympics. The below is a quote from Baker’s facebook page.
“Top 15 swimmers heading to Olympics! Unfortunately for me, the NZOC set the standard of top 9 and I was presented the Oceania spot. Extremely gutted considering I was holding top 5 the whole was till the 6th and final lap and just had nothing left. It’s in the New Zealand Olympic Committees hands now. Extremely proud of myself and gave it everything!”
Swimming New Zealand recognized the dilemma in a press release today, stating that ““We will prepare a case to our selectors to take up with the NZOC because the spot won’t be filled otherwise. Cara certainly swam well enough to prove she can foot it in the field for London.”
What they’re alluding to is the fact that Baker and her teammate Charlotte Webby were the only two swimmers from Oceania in the Olympic qualifying race, and thus were the only options to fill the continental spot in the lineup.
That would seem to imply that, unless the New Zealand Olympic Committee relents, the 25th and final qualifying spot would go to Dutch swimmer Linsy Heister, who was 16th overall (though the Olympic qualifying rules don’ t seem to specifically address the situation).
This would be a huge blow to the 20-year old Baker, who has battled severe health issues over the past few seasons that almost left her out of the sport. This year, however, back and feeling healthy she’s been on a tear. Once healthy again, though she won both the 5km and 10km race at New Zealand Nationals in the spring.
Watch and see if her male counterpart Kane Radford, who won the Tiburon mile last year, will be in the same position after tomorrow’s men’s qualifier.
For a federation that has been overrun for years with controversy and internal bickering, it would be a huge boost to Swimming New Zealand’s future to be able to bring some good news to the federation; instead, this great success (open water qualifying is immensely more difficult than pool) has a shadow cast across it.