The Kathy Watt Saga Continued...

Charlie's Angels defend coach

Richard Yallop, writer in the national daily, The Australian writes (22/7) that "Kathy Watt could not work with Charlie Walsh, the national cycling coach, but sitting alongside Mike Turtur, Australia's Olympic Team manager, were six 1995 world champions who could. There was Darryn Hill, world 1000 metre sprint champion; Shane Kelly, world 1000m time trial champion; and four members of the world champion 4000m pursuit team, Brad McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Tim O'Shannessey and Dean Woods."

"Then there was Gary Neiwand, 1993 world sprint champion, Brett Aitken, a 1993 team pursuit world champion, and Tim Lyons, 1995 team pursuit junior world champion. These riders, as well as Michelle Ferris, 1994 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, were displayed by Turtur yesterday as if to make the point. "This is how good Charlie Walsh is; why are you all making such a fuss about Kathy Watt?"

"The difference between them and Watt is that they confrom to the team ethic, and follow the Walsh line, but she does not. Neiwand, the 29-year old Victorian veteran, has worked with Walsh for 10 years and swears by him. Did he get on well with Walsh?"

Neiwand said "Jeez, yeah. He's a hard taskmaster. But if you handle what he gives you in training, you'll easily handle the requirements of competition. Like any successful organisation, if you don't do what the boss says, the company falls down around you. Everyone's got to toe the line and do things together. It's only the ones who buch the system (code for Watt, as the riders could not mention her by name because the athlete's contracts forbid them from commenting on other competitors) who have problems."

Yallop continues "Kelly, who comes from a Victorian cycling family and won his first bike by eight years of age, was equally enthusiastic about Walsh, though he admitted it took him a couple of years to get used to the demands placed on him in training. To all intents and purposes, Walsh is AUSTRALIAN cycling and for Turtur, and those who have been shaped by his 16 years as national coach, it is sacrilege to question the methods which have brought so much success in the past.

Turtur said "I can't believe we've got the talent sitting here in front of you and we're talking about Kathy Watt."

Yallop again "For one uncomfortable moment in the press conference it seemed that Turtur and the Australian assistant chef de mission, Peter Montgomerey, might lead the riders out in protest at persistent questioning on Watt. Turtur refused to comment on the decision by Justice Winneke, the judge from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who supported Watt's appeal against her exclusion from the 3000m pursuit, the event in which she won silver in Barcelona. Turtur was expecting to read the reasons for the judge's decision today, but there is speculation that it was based upon the letter sent to Watt by the ACF in April, informing her that she would be the nominated candidate for the pursuit, unless she was injured or another Australian rider performed some "unique" ride equalling or near to the world record before the games."

"Although Lucy Tyler-Sharman, the rider nominated by the ACF for the women's pursuit, posted two impressive times in Germany, they were set in practice and not in a race. Turtur, also refused to comment on whether the successful Watt appeal reflected on the competence of the ACF. But he made it clear that he did not approve of riders missing selection appealing to a higher court, and said that members of the men's team who missed out on Olympic events would cop it sweet."

"Watt, the supreme individualist, appeared to offend his sense of team discipline. Watt would not comment on the court decision, but Carey Hall, her manager - said 'It has been a difficult and frustrating time, and the ACF should have sorted it out earlier."

"Hall said the issue was not Walsh, but ensuring that individual riders who did not train with Walsh were still able to represent Australia."

He said "Charlie's a very successful coach, and I hope the guy does well in these Olympics. But you don't have to be under Charlie Walsh to get in the national team. It shouldn't be a closed shop"

Tyler-Sharman to Accept Court Decision

Leo Schlink writing in the national daily, The Australian this morning (22/7) said "Devastated cyclist Lucy Tyler-Sharman yesterday abandoned her dream of contesting the Olympic Games 3000m individual pursuit. Shattered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport's verdict she must stand aside in favour of Barcelona silver medallist Kathy Watt. Tyler-Sharman has reluctantly decided not to challenge Watt's reinstatement. The Perth rider has ruled out an appeal to a higher court leaving Watt to ride three events: the road race, road time trial, and 3000m pursuit at Stone Mountain velodrome."

"Tyler-Sharman had considered challenging Justice Winneke's order to the Australian Cycling Federation to reinstate Watt, who had been dropped because of Tyler-Sharman's sensational practice form and her refusal to attend the final training camp in Houston. Watt had objected her omission on the grounds she believed the ACF had guaranteed her nomination in the 3000m pursuit. Tyler-Sharman yesterday told officials she had neither the time nor money to launch an 11th hour attempt to regain the ride."

"Team hierarchy, distraught over Tyler-Sharman's treatment, refused to comment on the matter. Tyler-Sharman retreated to an afternoon of soul-searching in the company of her mother and would not comment publicly. Section manager Mike Turtur, a staunch supporter of head coach Charlie Walsh, who has had a long and eventful relationship with feisty Watt, said the ACF accepted the court's findings."

He said "But when I get to read the reasons why this has happened, when the competition is over and when I'm released from my duties here, I'll certainly have something to say about it all. Lucy is shattered. All I will say about selection is that whatever happens with our men's team pursuit riders where we have six outstanding riders with only four spots available, all of them will accept the coach's decision."