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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 24 August, 2019
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Joanna Mills: Now's not the time to make decision on possible Team GB switch

The Ballymena athlete isn’t making any calls despite being controversially dropped from the Irish Olympic team today.

Mills pictured in Belfast today.
Mills pictured in Belfast today.
Image: INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

JOANNA MILLS INSISTS she won’t rush into any decisions on her international allegience.

The Olympic Council of Ireland confirmed this morning that Catriona Cuddihy had been reinstated to the Irish women’s 4x400m relay squad, which is set to depart for the English capital tomorrow. The OCI’s Appeal Tribunal decision comes following a hearing in Dublin city centre last Thursday evening.

That bombshell means  Mills will not now be going to the Games — as things stand — as the sixth member of the relay team but the Ballymena native insists she won’t rush into a decision on switching allegience to Team GB.

“I’m not sure,” the 19-year-old told Will Downing in Belfast today. “I just think because of the whole situation and everything that’s been going on now is not the time to be making any major decisions such as that.

“It has been disheartening the way the whole Irish athletics and high performance scheme has worked out. I’ve been really disappointed with the way it’s been handled and I know other athletes in Ireland — who don’t have the opportunity to run for GB — are disappointed too.  And just in general for Athletics Ireland, I don’t think it hasn’t been the most encouraging from that point of view.”

With the Games merely days away, Mills still has the option of going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but she’s yet to decide on her next move.

“It’s been a very long drawn out process from the start really and I dont know if I’ll go that final stage or not. I need to sit down with my coach Ian and discuss whether I want to take it there,” she said.

“Obviously I’d need to look at what I’d appeal on but obviously a decision would have to be made quickly because it’s a very quick process and it will be dealt with within the next 24 hours. So I’ll have to wait and see.”

Rivals

Should Mills decide to give up the ghost, her place will indeed be taken by Catriona Cuddihy after one of Irish athletics’ more public fiascos. But whatever ultimately happens, she says there’s no personal issue with her replacement.

“Nothing at all, it’s nothing personal. I shared a room with Catriona in Helsinki and we got on fine. It’s not a personal matter at all and I think everybody realises that. It’s just been difficult for the athletes involved — even the other relay girls — but it’s not a personal issue. It’s just disappointing that even though I’ve run faster, that’s not Catriona’s fault. She’s not the one that picked the team, it’s not like I can blame her for anything.”

Athletics Ireland have described the affair as a significant learning experience, and have vowed to to conduct a post-Games review of the selection and appeals processes and their impact on all involved.

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