British judo number one de-selected from Youth Olympics

Former Skyswood pupil and bronze medal winner for Great Britain at the IJF World cadet tour European

Former Skyswood pupil and bronze medal winner for Great Britain at the IJF World cadet tour European championships in Spain, Daniel Mair - Credit: Archant

BJA is taking Britain’s number two instead

Marshalswick Judo Club’s Dan Mair has been left ‘utterly devastated’ after having his Youth Olympics dream snatched away from him by the British Judo Association, and is contemplating giving up the sport.

The 17-year-old is the British number one in the under-90kg cadet class and had earned his spot on the plane to the Games in Tbilisi, Georgia in July.

“To find out I had made the squad was immense. As soon as I received the official notification I increased my training even more,” he said.

That dream is over after the BJA de-selected him in favour of Britain’s number two, William Jones. The pair are separated by four world ranking spots, with Mair coming in higher at number 44, and Mair beat Jones for the bronze medal at the European Cup in March. The contest lasted less than two minutes before Mair won with an Ippon throw.

“I have gone through a range of emotions from shocked, angry and obviously disappointed because I have earned the right to go,” stressed Mair.

“I am Great Britain number one and Will Jones is number two. It is impossible to understand the BJA’s decision.”

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Mair is unhappy with the process behind the decision, which saw confidential information leaked to the Welshman.

He received his selection email on June 12, with specific instructions that it was confidential until July 14, when the BJA would announce its nominations. However, Jones got hold of that information and used it to lodge a successful appeal against his non-selection.

Mair received another email on June 22 notifying him of his de-selection from the BJA’s performance director, Nigel Donohue, which states the choice was ‘not made on the merits’ of the two athletes. It does not mention an opportunity to lodge his own appeal.

“For Will Jones’ non-selection to have been leaked to him is appalling. For him to then use technical information supplied to him in order to win that appeal is unbelievable,” said Mair.

“He didn’t even win it based on the merits of his judo. How can I possibly fight that?”

The BJA chief executive, Andrew Scoular, told the Herts Ad that a full investigation is underway to discover how Jones found out about his non-selection.

However, he defended the decision, saying Jones was the selection panel’s original choice and the email sent to Mair was an error.

“The selection panel has a scientific process for selection which takes into account ranking, the number of fights, the opponent, head-to-head, the level of fight and more. In the time they had available, they gave the edge to [Jones],” said Scoular.

He explained the error occurred when the panel’s decision was sent off to be ratified by the BJA’s performance management group. When the information was leaked to Jones, he was able to get the process sent back to square one, leading to them going back to their original selection.

Scoular said the appeal process had been “open and transparent” because both athletes had been given a chance to make their case to the appeals panel. Not so, according to Mair.

“I only found out when I received a very blunt email about my de-selection. I had not been notified there was an appeal lodged against my selection,” he explained.

“Also, I was not notified that I could then counter appeal until my father had a heated discussion with one of the England coaches.”

All in all, it’s left Mair disillusioned with the sport he loves. He has even pulled out of this weekend’s European Championships in Bulgaria.

“I am proud to represent my country but I am not proud to represent the BJA,” he said.

“At the moment I do not feel like setting foot on a judo mat again. Any country at Olympic level needs to be represented by the sportsmen and women most likely to win them a medal. That is their best athlete, not their second best.”