Hundreds of outraged fans call for Tonia Couch to be given shot at Olympic gold
MORE than 500 outraged sports fans have demanded city diver Tonia Couch be given the chance to compete for individual gold at the Olympics.
Herald readers have offered Tonia a huge wave of support after her shock omission from the 10m platform team.
In the space of just 48 hours, some 544 people flocked online to sign a Herald petition calling for the “unfair” decision to be overturned.
The Herald handed the long list of names to Plymouth Diving coach and Life Centre diving manager Sally Freeman yesterday.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Former international diver Freeman raised fresh concerns over morale in the Team GB camp following Tonia’s controversial snub, as diving bosses held urgent talks at their Mallorca training camp.
The 23-year-old has been left out by British Diving performance director Alexei Evangulov – despite taking silver in the British Gas Diving Championships in Sheffield last weekend.
The woman she beat into third place, Sheffield’s Monique Gladding, was picked instead.
Tonia’s coach, Andy Banks, has filed an official appeal against the decision.
British Swimming yesterday confirmed the appeal had been received and said it would follow a ‘fast track’ procedure.
It is understood Banks, Evangulov and other British diving supremos attended a meeting at the team’s pre-Games training camp yesterday to discuss the furore.
Tonia – along with all other British Diving team members – is unable to comment on the situation until the outcome of the appeal is decided.
But she said on Twitter that she was “gutted” at the news, yesterday adding: “Thanks for everyone’s support. Love you all xxx.”
Freeman, who competed in the 1994 Commonwealth Games, expressed fears over the Olympic diving team’s morale in light of the appeal.
If it succeeds, Tonia could take Gladding’s place on the top board in London next month.
If not, she must settle for a place in the 10m synchronised event with her partner, fellow city diver Sarah Barrow.
“I would think it’s created a really awkward situation in the team,” Freeman said.
“They’re a close group who have a lot of respect for each other, but the worry is this could mean it will take a lot of hard work to get the team to bond.”
Freeman admitted she was as shocked as anyone to hear Tonia had been overlooked.
“She had done everything right,” Freeman added. “She has been training twice a day for four years for the Olympics.
“She made the final in Beijing four years ago and she’s made the top eight in pretty much every tournament she’s dived in since.
“She’s fit, she’s happy and she did the job by finishing second last weekend.
“We’re all still pleased we’ve got Tom (Dale), Sarah (Barrow) and Tonia in the GB team but it’s gutting for her and it does seem unfair.”
Outraged sports fans from Plymouth and beyond have added their names and messages to The Herald’s petition calling for the selection to be reversed.
Peter Grainger, one of those who signed the petition, said Tonia’s performances merited a shot at individual glory.
“Tonia has outclassed the other competitors consistently and is ranked higher than the person chosen,” Mr Grainger said.
“She deserves the right to show the world how good she is.”
Another sign-up, Alan Pook, agreed. He wrote: “Silver comes before bronze. Surely Tonia has proved herself good enough to take part in the individual Olympic events?”
Meanwhile, Nathan Avery aimed a shot at Evangulov and the selection process.
“Ridiculous decision,” he said. “It makes a farce of the word ‘competition’.”
Lee Howard branded Tonia’s rejection as “disgusting”, adding: “She is the best female diver in the country.”
And Karen Lambert wrote: “The girl has worked her socks off for this. What an insult to her talents. Re-instate Tonia to her rightful place to represent GB in the 2012 diving. It is a disgrace.”