Well, there goes another sporting dream down the gurgler.

Jacko Gill, the teenage shot put sensation, is unbeatable in the world for his age, but a few old school duffers had no trouble doing him in.

The Devonport Dynamo's withdrawal from Olympics consideration is as depressing as sports news gets. While he was out wowing the world, Athletics New Zealand was devouring its rulebook and spitting sub-clauses in his tracks.

This is a bloody outrage.


Jacko Gill - probably the finest junior shot put exponent in history - HAD to be on that plane to London. This was a rare, probably unique time to dream the dream, celebrate youthful exuberance, dedication and intelligence, grab history by the scruff of the neck, sit back and enjoy.

The 17-year-old Gill had qualified more than well enough for the London Games, and there was absolutely no downside to him going. He should have been backed to the hilt but instead, as his father Walter said, ANZ blundered and left the young athlete "gutted", no doubt by many things including the lack of respect and faith.

At the very least, Gill would have gained invaluable experience for a future career that promises superstardom, experienced an atmosphere that only Olympians can really know, and allowed us to say we were there when something remarkable happened.

It is inconceivable that a kid this young could even qualify in a heavyweight Olympics event let alone be a finals prospect.

But Jacko Gill heaved inconceivable into the drink. In response, ANZ - while selecting others - could only rule that Gill's B-standard qualifying throw left him in a small group "in contention". They would kindly let him know just three weeks before the Olympics begin on July 27. B-grade all right.

This delayed selection smacks of a deliberate "we know better than this young man" attitude, because New Zealand sends way worse athletes on truly doomed Olympic missions. When rule-wielding number crunchers run sport, dreams get smashed.

Read about the lives of outstanding sports leaders, like Manchester United's supremo Sir Alex Ferguson, and their almost innate ability to inspire and communicate on personal levels stands out. Read about the Gill fiasco, and what stands out like a sore toe is that a pow-wow happened after the problem arose.

Declaration of interest here: I'm an avowed fan - in awe really - of Gill and his family, for their singular attitude, supportive environment and stunning success. They are also a delight to deal with.


But all leanings aside, a bureaucratic nightmare has robbed Gill and the rest of us. ANZ's high performance director Scott Goodman blundered on, saying: "Did we plan on him (Gill) going to London and bringing home a medal - that's not a realistic objective".

Oh the unbridled optimism is overwhelming. Don't they understand the magic around this young man?

Come on troops - take a gob full of chill pills and let yourself go. Sport is about the unexpected, the dreams, not pen-pushers talking like lawyers hell-bent on covering their arses.

Goodman doesn't understand the Gills either in saying he didn't see the withdrawal coming.

This family does things respectfully, but their way. The obsessive Jacko - who trains into the early hours of the morning - designs his programmes to the extent that Didier Poppe reckons he isn't his coach in the conventional sense.

With a competitiveness nurtured at family sport days that also turned Gill's sister into a fine hammer thrower, with a sensibility that welcomes every drug tester to the door, plus natural and learned gifts delivered by two field athlete parents, Jacko is one out of the box.

There was a strange silence, more of bafflement, in the media and public when Gill failed to get a definitive nod from the selectors. When faced with subjects beyond the familiarity of rugby, rugby, rugby we may be too inclined to sympathise with authority figures.

But anyone who has dealt with the fearless Gills would have guessed something was brewing in response. Jacko Gill needed time to prepare in confidence, along with support, nurturing and faith. He got none. Betrayed by ANZ, he has not betrayed his way of doing things. I'll take his appearance at the world juniors instead as a protest march.

An extraordinary young man has looked at the cards he has been dealt, scoffed, and kept playing his own game. It's still a disaster though.