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Gymnastics Canada says no to top athlete

Gymnastics Canada has told the top-ranked rhythmic gymnast in the country she won't be added to the team that is going to the London Olympics.

Gymnastics Canada has told the top-ranked rhythmic gymnast in the country she won't be added to the team that is going to the London Olympics.

Mariam Chamilova's mother Naida says she is frustrated by all the bureaucracy but she will take the issue to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.

"My concern is these people have no idea how to manage the actual team," she said Tuesday.

Acting on the advice of national coaches, Mariam Chamilova declined her spot in the six-member group more than a year ago to continue to compete as an individual. She's been a member of the senior national team for three years.

Chamilova, who was born in Moscow, raised in Ottawa and now lives and trains in Toronto, remains ranked No. 1 on the national team.

She was told she could qualify for the group again later, then learned a second qualification round had been cancelled. No individual rhythmic gymnasts qualified, including Chamilova, but Canada was added in the group category at the Olympics.

"I was told by sport officials there would be another selection process, otherwise I would have obviously joined the team because I knew my chances of qualifying were bigger with the group," she said earlier.

Gymnastics Canada president Jean-Paul Caron says after a review, it was decided the only way Chamilova can go is if one athlete from the group is replaced.

There is no indication that such a move is in the works.

"At this point in time, no," he said Tuesday. "We have to operate within the established or published internal nomination procedure for the games. It's not like we can do whatever we want.

"We are obligated with the Canadian Olympic Committee to have published criteria ahead of time."

He said the process protects the rights of the athletes, although he didn't dispute that it may not ensure the best athletes are representing Canada.

"That's an objective. The criteria are not necessarily built that way."

But he said the performance of those who have been made part of the group will continue to be monitored.

"That's ongoing. That's a responsibility of all our national coaches and high-performance director, making sure that all our athletes are prepared for the games."

Chamilova's mother says her daughter has faced some tension from other national team members. Parents also have received communication from Gymnastics Canada pointing to media reports.

One of them posted an article in the dressing room.

"She is not in a very good condition," said Naida Chamilova, adding that her daughter, who just turned 18, has decided to stop competing as an individual while she continues her fight to join the group.

Her decision not to join the group also cost her funding as a carded athlete.

 
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