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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
©INPHO/Ian MacNicol Marian Heffernan takes the baton from Joanne Cuddihy in their European semi-final last month.
# 4 x 400 fiasco
'Natural selection': Heffernan backs Cuddihy for Olympic inclusion
The 400m sprinter admitted disappointment at the handling of the squad selection, but insisted the team will be fully focused on the track.

IRISH 4 X 400 Olympian, Marian Heffernan today admitted that she is disappointed with the Athletics Association of Ireland (AAI)’s handling of the selection process for the games.

The process was botched last week when the AAI selected Caitriona Cuddihy to form part of the six woman team.

However, Joanna Mills’ subsequent appeal was successful and Cuddihy was culled just four days after modelling the kit in a team photo.

Despite the enrolment deadline passing; the final make-up of the squad is still unknown as Cuddihy (the younger sister of Joanne, who is on the team) has launched a counter-appeal with the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) who are looking into the AAI’s selection process as a result.

Speaking in Dublin today as part of Electric Ireland’s sponsorship of Team Ireland, Heffernan was asked if she was disappointed at the way things had been handled.

“I was. Just from the team point of view: Caitriona had come to a lot of the camps and I think she was almost a natural selection for the team because she was at all the races and she brought something to the team – there was a good feeling there.

“Not that we’d treat Joanna any differently, there would never be an issue like that. I think it got to all of us, for Caitriona it was heartbreaking and you can’t help but put yourself in her shoes.”

Despite the empathy for the girls involved, Heffernan remained adamant that (as the confusion was reigning related to who would fill the sixth place in the team) the four leading ladies could retain focus on the track:

“It doesn’t really affect our team.” Heffernan told TheScore.ie “There was a bit of a lull around the time of the nationals there was a bit of a lull warming up. We had heard the news the morning of the nationals and it must have been heartbreaking for Caitriona.”

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Ousted

From the outside looking in, one would assume the exception to that rule would be Joanne Cuddihy. It would be understandable if she were  the most disappointed should her sister be ousted at the last minute.

“Joanne is a brilliant competitor. I think she has that ability to put things aside and not let her emotions effect things like that. Caitriona is the same, I’d really commend her for coming out and running last week in nationals. Under the circumstances it was a very, very hard thing to do.

“I think Joanne would definitely be able to put it to the back-burner. She has her feelings aswell and is heartbroken because, you know, it’s her sister. But she’s such a good competitor I don’t think she would let it effect her.”

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