Kathy Watt takes Legal Action

"Jilted Watt launches legal appeal"

The headline in the national daily, The Australian from Trudy Harris, Peter Atkinson, and Leo Schlink this morning told it all. They wrote "Kathy Watt yesterday began legal action in Australia against the selection of rival Lucy Tyler-Sharman in an escalation of the bitter battle just four days before the Atlanta opening ceremony."

"Watt's lawyer David Grace said he was confident of winning the appeal lodged yesterday in the International Court for Arbitration in Sport in Sydney. Grace said Watt was not expected to give oral evidence with confidential written submissions to be produced when the appeal is heard in Melbourne later this week. The battle centres on Watt's exclusion by the Australian Cycling Federation from the 3000m pursuit cycling event in which she won a silver medal at the Barcelona Games four years ago."

"Grace said the Olympic gold medallist was forced into legal action partly because the ACF had breached a written guarantee that Watt had been nominated as the Australian rider in the pursuit. An ACF spokesman sid the national body would vigorously defend the appeal describing the selection of Tyler-Sharman as "appropriate and correct". The secretary of the CAS in Australia, Tim L'Estrange, said an arbitrator would be chosen from a nine-member panel of Australian and New Zealand judges and lawyers as well as the Australian Institute of Sport executive director John Boultbee."

"Meanwhile, Watt has turned to the Australian team's top sports psychologist in a bid to clear her thoughts. She held a lengthy meeting with team psychologist Graham Winter yesterday in a bid to return her focus to the two road events she is certain to ride at the Games.

Australian team boss, John Coates in reiterating the team management's support for Kathy said "Kathy has been working with Graham from time to time but she is having a number of additional sessions with him at the moment."

"Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Federation, also hinted he expected Watt to win her appeal. He said "I would think it's well worth an appeal."

"Winter, the team's head of psychiatric services and a long-time advisor to Watt, said he believed the disruption of the selection controversy might eventually work in her favour. He said "I have impressed upon her that the situation is almost identical to that which existed in Barcelona, when she won the road race without knowing whether or not she would be allowed to ride in the pursuit. Her first priority is the road race, which is in just seven day's time. I think if there is any Australian athlete who can cope with this kind of situation it's Kathy Watt. He record in pressure situations is outstanding. She will never let anybody down in any event in which she competes. Her record in big events is one which not too many Australian athletes can match".

The writers continue "Another of the Olympic team's eight psychologists, Kathy Martin, is understood to be counselling Tyler-Sharman at the track team's camp in Houston. Tyler-Sharman said yesterday "It (selection) has not nothing to do with me, and I'm under strict orders not to comment about it. As far as my preparation goes, my legs feel good and I've never had form like this in my life. I've been riding for 11 years and I've taken 13 seconds off my best pursuit time since January. I think that's a pretty reasonable improvement."

"Tyler-Sharman also has no concerns about her crowded Olympic schedule. She said that "I'll have about 45 minutes between the individual pursuit and the 24km points race. I don't think that will matter too much at all. In training with the men, we often make 20 effots per day - 10 4500m efforts in the morning and 10 2km efforts in the afternoon. So I thinking having 45 minutes between events is going to be a walk in the park"