Former Hunter-based sprinter Josh Ross is warning the Australian Olympic Committee he will abandon the London Games if he does not receive a legitimate explanation for the reason behind his federation failing to nominate him to race in the 100 metres individual event.
Ross, who is a member of Australia's 4x100m relay team, is eligible to compete in the Olympics blue riband event because he clocked 10:23 seconds – a B-qualifying standard time – at the nationals earlier this year and at a recent meet in Europe.
I've been trying to get answers but because it's always being hand-balled to other people it's been difficult to find a straight answer
However, he has reached breaking point after Athletics Australia officials would not tell him why he was overlooked. Melissa Breen was nominated for the women's 100m after she ran a B-standard time and selectors will soon choose between fellow B-qualifiers Steve Solomon and John Steffensen to compete in the 400m event.
“I'm actually thinking about pulling out all together if I don't get answers,” Ross said. “I'll actually be happy to pull out if I don't get answers to why I wasn't nominated for the 100m.”
Ross said he was committed to sacrificing his place at the Olympics and would “have to” live with what many people would consider an extreme action because – after coming out of retirement and giving his all to represent Australia at London – he has felt a distinct lack of respect from his sport's officialdom.
“All I wanted is an answer, a simple answer,” he said. “I'm doing this because I haven't got any answers personally. I've been trying to get answers but because it's always being hand-balled to other people it's been difficult to find a straight answer. The strangest thing of all is I'm trying to find out why they nominated Steve Solomon and John Steffensen to run but didn't want to nominate me.
“Am I not good enough? Am I not good enough to them to run the 100m when I have proven time and time again that Josh Ross always comes through with the goods . . . 'Am I not good enough to be nominated?' That is the big question – although it is a strange question.”
Ross believed such a stance was required to ultimately improve the lot for Australia's athletes. He could not understand why his federation would not nominate the likes of himself or Tamsyn Manou (nee Lewis), a triple Olympian and former world indoor champion who was not even selected for the team despite posting a B-qualifier for the 800m .
Great Britain has nominated athletes who have run B-qualifying times in the men's 100m and women's 800m.
“There is a bigger picture than just me not running or Tamsyn and whoever else,” Ross said. “You have to look at the future of the sport, the up-and-coming athletes. We have the best 400m sprinter [Steffensen] that we've ever seen on the team and he's not [picked yet]; we have our best 100m sprinter and he's not making it ... the younger athletes must be thinking 'if they're not making it what hope do I have?' I think it is time to fix athletics in this country and [for the officials] to do things the right way.
“If we don't speak up now and make stands to change the sport it will never happen, I just want you to know this is [the reason for] my stand.”
Ross said the chance for him to compete against Jamaica's world champion Usain Bolt, history's fastest man, would perhaps help AA to inspire youngsters to remain in a sport that constantly loses its best prospects to the football codes.
“Australians want to see Australians compete,” he said. “The fact is I'm here in London [where I'm being accommodated, clothed and fed] so why not let me run?”