Table Tennis: Selector involved in previous complaint

By Steve Deane

Four-time national table tennis champion Sarah Her-Lee is still considering legal options, which could include seeking a re-hearing at the tribunal. Picture / Mark Mitchell
Four-time national table tennis champion Sarah Her-Lee is still considering legal options, which could include seeking a re-hearing at the tribunal. Picture / Mark Mitchell

The Table Tennis New Zealand official at the centre of a row over the non-selection of a top player for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was the subject of a previous complaint to the New Zealand Sports Tribunal.

Top local player Sarah Her-Lee was overlooked for the Games team in favour of two overseas based players who have been inactive on the international scene for over two years, the Herald recently reported.

With the Games just 10 days away, Ms Her-Lee is still considering legal options, which could include seeking a re-hearing at the tribunal.

One of two selectors of the five-strong Games team, TTNZ High Performance director Murray Finch, was replaced as coach of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games team after a tribunal found he had played a part in selecting himself for the role while at the same time excluding a rival from consideration.

Mr Finch - who served on a two-person panel that selected a long-list of candidates for submission to the NZ Olympic Committee - was initially appointed as the team's coach despite being the subject of a complaint for allegedly reducing one of the team members to tears during a qualifying tournament.

A tribunal found that Mr Finch and fellow high performance official Tim Seaholme placed themselves on the long list for the coaching job while excluding Auckland Table Tennis chairman Wayne Gear. Mr Seaholme was then appointed to the selection panel that appointed Mr Finch as the team's coach.

Mr Gear, who had previously been censured by TTNZ for distributing an email inferring Mr Finch and Mr Seaholme were morons, appealed to the sports tribunal. The tribunal ruled Mr Finch's appointment be set aside as he and Mr Seaholme had acted as judges in their own cause - a breach of natural justice.

Mr Gear was subsequently appointed as the team's coach but has not been appointed to any TTNZ positions since.

Mr Finch's assurance that two overseas-based players selected for Glasgow, Sun Yang and Jenny Hung, have been involved in club play in Beijing and Taiwan was accepted by the tribunal that upheld Ms Her-Lee's non selection.

Mr Gear said Mr Finch had produced no evidence to show Yang and Hung had been active at either professional or international level for several years until Hung played one match at the world team championships earlier this year.

Yang, who attended the world team championships as a coach but did not play, has been selected for Glasgow as a player/coach.

"The known facts are that Jenny Hung only played one international match during the selection period," Mr Gear said. "Sun Yang played none. Jenny Hung and Sun Yang are not competing in recognised leagues within their home countries of Taiwan and China."

A dispute between Ms Her-Lee and top-ranked player, national coach and TTNZ board member Chunli Li was cited by TTNZ as a factor in Ms Her-Lee's non-selection. Although she apologised for her part in the dispute in March, Ms Her-Lee was later excluded from a training camp held at Chunli Li's club in Panmure. Mr Finch's assessment of players' form during that camp was part of the selection process for Glasgow.

Mr Finch declined to answer the Herald's questions, referring the newspaper to TTNZ.

TTNZ executive director John Lea and chairman Paul Kyle declined to answer questions, instead referring the Herald to the tribunal's decision to uphold Ms Her-Lee's non-selection.

- NZ Herald

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