Paralympic gold medalist Ollie Hynd, who in March was classed up from S8 to S9 at the Denmark World Para Swim Series stop, has successfully appealed his new status and will return to S8 – at least for now.
Following his reclassification in March, Hynd released a statement saying that he was “heartbroken and confused.”
His representing agency, 19 Eleven, released the following statement last Wednesday:
Following the re-classification of Oliver Hynd MBE from S8 to S9 in freestyle, butterfly and backstroke at the World Series Para Swimming event in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 2018, Hogan Lovells and Chris Stoner QC lodged an appeal on Ollie’s behalf on the grounds that the re-classification process was deeply flawed. This was upheld by the independent appeal panel on 4 June 2018. Ollie’s comments are below.
“I am really pleased that the appeal panel listened carefully to my concerns over the way my recent re-classification process was handled. The last couple of months have been incredibly stressful. I am relieved and delighted at the outcome, and I would like to thank Chris Stoner QC and Hogan Lovells for their fantastic support throughout my appeal.
To be clear, this has never been about classification itself: I understand that the process is complex, that it will change, and that it is in place to protect all para-athletes and maintain the integrity of the sport. Having said that, classification assessments must be conducted according to established protocol and guidelines. We all overcome daunting physical and mental obstacles and train incredibly hard to compete – a level classification playing field is the least we can expect.
I can now stop worrying and really focus on my training. Winning gold medals in Tokyo is still the goal.”
With the appeal being decided in Ollie’s favour, he will now undergo a further classification review, but we are still awaiting the full outcome from the IPC’s independent panel as to what form this will take.
Ollie is currently at training camp out of the UK until 9th July and is focused on the competition circuit that will take him towards yet another successful Paralympic Games.
This announcement came on the same day that fellow Brit and Paralympic champion Matt Wylie announced that he would retire from the sport after being classed up from S9 to S10.
As 19 Eleven stated, there is potential that Hynd could be classed up again after a further IPC review, but for now, his S8 appeal will stand. The reversal is particularly interesting because when the initial reclassification came to light, British Swimming reportedly protested, but the S9 ruling was upheld at that point. SwimSwam has reached out to Hynd’s representatives for details on the process.
In late 2017, World Para Swimming announced that it would implement a new classification process, which took effect January 1, 2018 – all athletes are required to undergo a new classification test in 2018 (with the exception of a few special cases, which can be found here). This new process is meant to combat intentional misrepresentation (IM), which occurs when an athlete intentionally makes their impairment seem more severe in order to be put into a lower disability class.
Under the new system so far, an inordinate number of athletes, some more high-profile than others, have been reclassified – both up and down. You can read more about the chaos here.
American Robert Griswold (also an S8) has also been classed up and then back down again under the new system, though Griswold’s change was more immediate.