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By Agence France Presse
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Tuesday it will ask Athens Olympic organizers to try and get medals for cyclists Peter Dawson and Stephen Wooldridge who missed out on a team pursuit gold medal.
Dawson and Wooldridge were nearly inconsolable after missing out on Australia’s gold medal win on Monday in the 4000m team pursuit after riding in the record-setting qualifying round on Sunday.
Under cycling’s rules, unlike swimming’s relays, only those who ride in the final get the medals. The Olympic rule differs from world championship events, in which all teammates share in the glory. Nonetheless, Sydney 2000 gold medalists Germany successfully applied for medals for their two qualifying round riders, and AOC director of sport Craig Phillips said he would speak to ATHOC for a similar exception.
“Hopefully, they’ll go on the same generosity system, and Stephen and myself will be given a medal,” Dawson said Tuesday. “But if not I’m still happy to be a part of it.”
British Cycling said it was also working in conjunction with the British Olympic Association (BOA) to submit an appeal on behalf of Chris Newton and Bryan Steel.
Newton and Steel rode in the early rounds of the team pursuit but were not awarded a silver medal because they were not selected to ride the final.
“I am going to try to do something about it because they have contributed to those medals,” British cycling’s performance director Dave Brailsford said. “And it was an appalling job having to inform two riders they were not going to make that selection.”
The decision not to select Dawson and Wooldridge in the crack Australian team left both riders in tears. Coach Ian McKenzie told them the bad news on Sunday night that they would be making way for Brad McGee and Luke Roberts, who joined Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster to break the world record in the first round.
Dawson rode in all three of Australia’s world championship wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and Wooldridge was in the 2002 and 2004 teams. It was too much for Wooldridge who stayed in the athletes’ village and didn’t go to the velodrome to watch the team pursuit final.
But Dawson went to watch his teammates win gold, although said it was the hardest thing he has done.
“I can’t really describe it. It’s something I’ve been working for for four years,” Dawson said. “To be told you’re not going to be a part of the final part is pretty devastating, it’s obviously hurting.
“Now we’ve won the gold medal, I’m sure I’ll get over it and look for Beijing in 2008. Steve is the same as me; he’s obviously finding it hard. I can’t believe I was able to stand up there and do that. Probably the hardest thing I’m ever going to do in my life is stand there and watch those boys do what they did and watch them get the medals without me on the podium.
I’m extremely happy for them, look out 2008 because we’ll win again,” concluded Dawson.
Agence France Presse