Olympics: How Adams almost missed out on competing

By David Leggat

New Zealand's athletics section manager Raelene Bates failed to correctly complete shot putter Valerie Adams entry form which almost cost her a place in the field yesterday.

Bates was today revealed as the person who was charged with filling in the forms for all New Zealand's track and field athletes at the London Olympics.

Adams and 1500m runner Lucy van Dalen's forms were not correctly filled out. Both were competing on Monday.

However Adams' manager Nick Cowan said it was not possible to say whether the disruption that caused was enough to cost her the defence of her Olympic Games title. Adams finished second behind biggest rival, Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus.

"That's a very difficult question to answer," he said today.

"It has had an effect, no doubt about that.

"Did it affect the result? We don't know that.

"It is too difficult to answer if that was the difference between gold and silver. She did her best for this to be boxed and move on. But it was a very difficult one for her to let go of."

Adams was well beaten on the night in the shot put final by Ostapchuk, who had four throws well in excess of 21 metres. Adams was some way short of her best and was in tears after the event in which she was trying to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
At about 3pm on Sunday, Adams discovered her name was missing from the start list for the following morning's qualifying rounds.

She contacted Cowan urgently. NZOC chef de mission Dave Currie was advised around the same time that there was a potentially disastrous situation developing.

About three hours later, after meeting International Amateur Athletics Federation technical delegate Bill Bailey, Adams and van Dalen were reinstated in their fields. Cowan confirmed Adams received the all-clear at 6.15pm on Sunday night, about 25 hours before her event, but that she had been thrown off-kilter by the imbroglio.

Bates had put entry forms in for six New Zealand athletes on April 1. They had to be filed by 9am on the day before each athletes' competition.

Bates had a policy of doing them at the same time. The following day she went back and confirmed all had been accepted and signed off by the athletic sports desk.

When Currie saw the forms, the first three - for athletes competing on August 3, 4 and 5, heptathlete Sarah Cowley, 1500m runner Nick Willis and marathoner Kim Smith - had been fully filled in; the others, for August 6, 8 and 10, for Adams, van Dalen, decathlete Brent Newdick, javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar and 50km walker Quentin Rew, had not.

Boxes which required the word 'yes' to be inserted were completed for the first group of athletes but left blank - indicating those athletes would not compete - for the other New Zealanders, including Adams.

Currie has quizzed Bates on what happened.

''There's no explicable, understandable, rational reason," he said today.

''I've talked to her at length about that. She can't recall any reason. In her own mind she was sure she'd done it. You look at the forms and they're not done."

He described Bates, who has attended several Olympic and Commonwealth Games in the role, as ''very effective and efficient".

Currie, who is overseeing his final Games as team boss, accepted that ''all things that happen in the team ultimately I am responsible for" but admitted he had not checked off the entries himself, and defended himself on that score.

All sports had their own entry procedures and he was comfortable leaving it to the section managers.

NZOC secretary general Kereyn Smith said there would be a major review into the snafu.

''We will review the processes and documentation thoroughly," she said.

''We can envisage there will a number of recommendations that will come forward in the fullness of time for thorough consideration.

''Some will go back to the international federation because we understand this is not an unprecedented situation."

Cowan said he and Adams would conduct their own campaign analysis ''as we do for every campaign, successful or not successful" and this incident would form the basis of that assessment.

In addition, Currie had apologied to Adams today and the athlete and her manager had been given an assurance that a process to work out what went so wrong would be undertaken.

Adams has left the Olympic village for a couple of days with her family but will return for the latter part of this week.

Bates, fingered as the official at fault, was not available for comment.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 29 Dec 2014 03:32:18 Processing Time: 537ms