9 Aug 2012

Five athletes victims of paperwork error

7:42 am on 9 August 2012

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has confirmed that five athletes, including shot-putter Valerie Adams, were not registered to compete at the London Olympics.

Adams, 1500m runner Lucy van Dalen, decathlete Brent Newdick, javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar and walker Quentin Rew were left off final confirmation start lists because of an administrative error.

The athletes risked disqualification from the Games because of the error, which the committee says it deeply regrets. NZOC president Mike Stanley says a box was not checked on the last four forms.

Mr Stanley has defended the committee's decision to name the person responsible for the oversight as NZOC athletics manager Raylene Bates.

He told Nine to Noon on Wednesday it was about performance, transparency and identifying the flaw so that it doesn't happen again.

The NZOC was able to quickly amend the two most directly affected - Adams and Van Dalen - and rectify the remaining two mistakes in time for their events later this week.

Error extraordinary - Quax

Former world champion runner Dick Quax says the paperwork bungle is extraordinary.

He told Nine to Noon that leading up to such a major event everything should be triple-checked to make sure it is right for the athletes. He was surprised there was no oversight by a second or third party.

Mr Quax says the athletes have spent years training and are mentally prepared for competition, so to find out they have been left off the list is unsettling at the very least.

Olympic great Sir Peter Snell says he is not sure what will happen to Ms Bates but after such a mistake he is sure heads will roll.

"I'm pretty certain they will, but what can you do really? If it's Raylene's fault she probably won't get to manage another team, but she's already got this trip in the bag."

Sir Peter says he is surprised that Adams did not have someone shielding her from the stress caused by the blunder.

NZOC president Mike Stanley says it was a simple human error, and while chef de mission Dave Currie is not at all happy, he is taking responsibility.

Mr Stanley says Ms Bates is an extremely experienced and competent administrator and has been involved with many teams, and the NZOC does not want a witchhunt.

Van Dalen's coach Andy Ronan says it is inappropriate to name the person responsible while the Olympics are still on.

Mr Ronan told Nine to Noon van Dalen found out she was not on the list about 24 hours before her event, but remained very positive and kept focused.

Adams says mistake added to stress

Valerie Adams discovered her name was missing from the start list for the women's shot put and was at one point denied entry to the track and field venue.

She told Morning Report she went into the call room for qualification and officials did not even have her name printed out. She says it took several hours of pleading to get her entered.

Her name was not added until a day before the competition, which meant she was "freaking out" about not knowing whether she was going to be able to compete or not.

"I'm about to try to find out why and how this even happened. People in the area knew that I was in the Olympics four years ago."

Adams, who came second, despite being one of the most favoured contenders for a gold medal, says she could have done without the stress; but she's not blaming the mix-up for losing her Olympic crown.

"I'm not taking it as an excuse, it's just very unfortunate that it happened to me."

Adams lost to the Belarussian, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, one of her long-time rivals.

Adams says it has been very tough and she is now taking time out to reflect on her future in the sport. She thanked New Zealand for supporting her journey to the Olympics.