A very demoralised, dejected and disillusioned, Joanna Mills , has confirmed that she has decided not to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over her exclusion from the Irish 4 x 400m relay squad.
On Tuesday, it was announced ,as we reported then that Catriona Cuddihy had been reinstated to the Irish team at the expense of Mills.
“If I were successful in my CAS appeal, I don’t think I would now be comfortable going into the environment of competing in London,” Mills told BBC Northern Ireland
“I’m really disappointed with the way the whole thing has been handled, especially by Athletics Ireland, and I hope they learn from it.”
“The whole way the high performance management and coaches have dealt with this issue is disheartening and I will have to make a decision”
“It should just be about times and who is running faster, but other factors are coming in to play.
“If it’s meant to be, there will be other Olympic Games for me.”
Mills said that in the light of recent events she had not ruled out the possibility of switching allegiance to the GB + NI organisation.
“I’ve got a lot of opportunities through Ireland. A lot of individuals in the set-up have been very good to me.
“I can’t in any way ignore that but at the same time, the whole way the high performance management and coaches have dealt with this issue is disheartening and I will have to make a decision.
“But it’s not one I’m going to make at the minute – in the middle of all this.”
The 19 years old from Mills, Ballymena, was adamant that she holds no grudge against towards Catriona Cuddihy and wished her and the team well for the Games.
“I hope they enjoy it,” she concluded
It is easy to understand how disappointed that Joanna Mills must be at this stage following the fiasco but equally it has been an extremely difficult time for Catriona Cuddihy. There are no real winners here.
For Mills though it would be a major error if she were to make any immediate decisions. Time is a great healer. She has a big future ahead of her with the Irish team as some of the present team members are most unlikely to be around in four years time and she has said in her statement, “ a lot of individuals in the set-up have been very good to me”.
For now, this incident must be put aside in the interests of the Irish team competing in London 2012 but clearly both the Olympic Council of Ireland and particularly Athletics Ireland have serious questions to answer once the Games are over.
Time for a major shake – up to the Athletics Ireland set up at Senior Management level whilst the Olympic Council of Ireland needs to explain why as the ultimate authority they did not satisfy themselves that the selection criteria laid down was clear and beyond legal challenge . Athletics Ireland also needs to explain why Joanna Mills was even included in their squad considering she had not signed the declaration that they had originally insisted all athletes must sign before being considered for the relay squad. Why have rules if one does not abide by them?
All in all, a sad episode in Irish athletics history and one which must not be repeated.