Lack of GB athletics team leaves many disappointed and prompts student athletes to launch petition
The decision from UK Athletics to not send a Great Britain athletics team to the World University Games this summer in Kazan has prompted student athletes to start a petition urging them to reconsider.
Last night saw fans of the event, as well as student athletes, voice their disappointment on the social network Twitter, in response to a piece published in The Epinal, Loughborough University’s independent online student newspaper.
“Representing your country at any level is an honour and it should not be denied to the athletes with the opportunity to do so,” former Bath University athletics captain Chris Wakeford told The Epinal.
UKA is concentrating on the IAAF World Youth Championships, European Under-23 Championships and European Junior Championships this year, and the World University Games, together with the European Youth Olympics, clash with these.
This means, despite a record of success for British athletes in these events, no teams will be sent to either in 2013.
UKA were unable to comment any further on the matter, but in their 2013 selection policy document, the federation states: “As UKA consider [the World under 18s, European under 23s and European under 20s] more appropriate competitions for these age groups we will not send a team to the 2013 World University Games.”
She continued: “World champs quals are getting tougher so World Students a great stepping stone.
“UKA should send a small team who may miss out on World Champs especially field events.”
Wakeford shares Sotherton’s view in that the World University Games is an opportunity for older students, giving them, what Wakeford describes as, “a platform to gain international honours on a world stage and use it as a stepping stone to further athletic achievements”.
The petition asks UKA to reconsider their decision and allow a small team of athletes who are ineligible to compete at the European under-23 and under-20 championships to compete in the World University Games. At the time of publication, 244 people had signed the petition.
Those signing the petition were also encouraged to give their reasons for doing so, with one supporter, Jane Moss, explaining: “We seem to forget that athletes develop at different rates and we still need to nurture and develop those who mature a little later.
“They may not be attending championships as GB team members but many are fine athletes who deserve an opportunity to compete against their peers. Very short-sighted and elitist of UKA who should be encouraging university athletics not damning it.”
The Epinal also detailed Wakeford’s view that if UKA do not reverse their decision then responsibility should be handed over to British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), as the national governing body for Higher Education sport in the UK.
However, a spokesperson for BUCS has explained how this is not possible. “BUCS have been in active negotiations with UKA regarding a potential entry to the World University Games 2013 since October 2011,” the spokesperson told AW.
“The clash with three other age-group competitions became apparent later in 2011. UKA communicated their decision to us prior to our (internal) deadlines for entry in December 2012.
“An athletics entry to the World University Games 2013 is not possible without UKA support and funding.”
They continued: “It is BUCS who send the team to the World University Games and this is done through collaboration with the National Governing Body of each sport. Therefore, we sanction selections based on, in this case, UKA nominations. BUCS only progress entries where the athletes are part of the NGB performance pathway – and UKA have indicated that, for this cycle, other events are their priority for the athletes in question. Furthermore, the entries are supported financially by the relevant NGBs, so it is not financially viable without UKAs funding support.
“At the World University Games in Kazan 2013 BUCS will be entering teams for approximately half of the available sports for the same reason. BUCS will liaise again with UKA in spring 2013 in respect of entries to the World University Games in 2015.”
You can find the petition here.