North Shore paddler Teneale Hatton is taking her fight for Olympic selection to the Sports Tribunal.
Hatton was overlooked for selection in the canoe sprint team for Rio named yesterday, with reigning Olympic champion Lisa Carrington earning the nod in both the K1 200m and 500m events, while the selectors opted for the established group of Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie in the K4.
The London Olympian, who beat Carrington in the K1 500m at the Blue Lakes regatta in December, appealed her non-nomination directly to Canoe Racing New Zealand earlier this week, but the selectors held firm on the decision.
Hatton told the Herald she is now taking the next step and appealing to the Sports Tribunal, but was unable to discuss the details of her case while it is going through to the appeals process.
Canoe Racing New Zealand is yet to receive formal notification of Hatton's appeal, but chief executive Mark Weatherall admitted there had been a dispute over the Olympic nominations.
"We spent quite a bit of time with the athlete discussing the concerns raised. From our point of view we believe we have the best team possible," he said.
"We fully support an athlete's right to appeal - there's no issue there. If that's what is to happen then we'll go through that process. But as I say we're very comfortable with what we have come up with, and we back our selectors 100 per cent."
It is unclear whether Hatton is appealing her non-nomination in one of the K1 events, or a spot in the K4 boat. The 26-year-old had previously campaigned in the K4, finishing 12th at the 2014 world championships alongside Lovett, Ryan and Fisher. But she took time away from the sport last year to focus on surf ski events, taking out the world championships in Tahiti in October.
She made an immediate impact on her return, inflicting a rare defeat over Carrington just before Christmas. But Carrington, who holds the world title in both the 200m and 500m events, responded by beating Hatton at the canoe sprint national championships last month.
Hatton's case will be the third time in the space of 10 months that Canoe Racing bosses have had to defend their selections at the Sports Tribunal. In May last year the Tribunal took the extraordinary step of ordering Canoe Racing NZ to select Andrew Roy in the 200m K1 event for the under-23 world championships in Bulgaria, after the Tauranga paddler appealed his snub for the team. The Tribunal found the organisation had breached it owns selection policy in eight ways, including failing to comply with formal selector meeting requirements, formal voting requirements, and timing requirements.
That same month Darryl Fitzgerald and Zac Quickenden also lodged an appeal over their non-selections for the world championships in the K2 1000 boat. The pair's appeal was not upheld.
Weatherall said following last year's issues the organisation reviewed its policy documents and moved to simplify its selection criteria to ensure it was being applied correctly.
"We had some challenges last year and I acknowledged there were some areas we could improve and we have made a number of improvements, which have only seen our process and way of going about it get stronger," he said.
New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general Kereyn Smith said the organisation had approved the Canoe Racing New Zealand's nominations based on a selection framework that had been approved over two years ago. Each Olympic sport puts forward its nominations to the NZOC, who then confirm the selections.
"We examine the evidence provided and make sure it all stacks up and has been a credible process and that the athletes nominated clearly have the capability to finish in the top 16," said Smith.
"I had heard there was some potential discussion behind the scenes by athletes in terms of whether they were or not nominated, which at this stage is all I've heard. And that's not unusual at this time given what is at stake at the competition there is for places."
Smith said should Hatton's appeal be successful, Canoe Racing New Zealand would then have to resubmit its nominations to the NZOC.
"It is in athletes agreements with the New Zealand Olympic Committee that if for any reason their position is legally challenged then there is the ability to change the selections, but there is no precedent for that [in an Olympic team] to my knowledge," said Smith.