Saturday, July 07, 2012

Four Indian nationals logged Olympic qualifying times but FINA selects an Indian national who did have a qualifying time to swim in London...

...And to add insult to injury, they are having this individual swimming in the 1500-free rather than his signature event the 800-free; an event he swam in Shanghai. (Yes, I know there is no mens 800m free in the Olympics. The point here is that he has no qualification time whatsoever.)

Here is how the story goes: FINA has this rule "thingy" called the "universality quota." It means that a national federation or country can enter their team into the Olympics but if some of their swimmers are too slow and don't make an Olympic time standard this swimmer or swimmers can be vetoed by FINA. However, This "universality quota" also allows FINA to choose a team or a swimmer for the respective country if members don't qualify. I am unclear why FINA can veto those who do have qualifying times but in this case they did.

Here is what happened in India - From the Hindu Sport:

"...We had four swimmers who crossed the Olympic Selection Timing. But those who crosses Olympic Qualification Timing gets automatic Olympic berth. Only some of OST standard achievers qualify for Olympics and FINA picks these swimmers at the end of qualification process," Nanavati said. ..."

"Viradhwal, Sandeep, Aaron and Sangvekar were not included in the list of those qualified from among [the Olympic Selection Timing] swimmers. So we requested FINA that India should not go unrepresented in the Olympics and last night I got a letter from the FINA that Gagan has been granted a berth in men's 1500m freestyle under Universality quota," he added.


Note, Gagan's specialty is the 800-m free. He swam it in Shanghai and apparently his attendance there was the sole reason why he was picked. Though he does not have a qualifying time for the 1500-m free FINA has picked him to swim it.

Now the confusing part is though the swimmers mentioned in the above article, Viradhwal, Sandeep, Aaron and Sangvekar, had met the Olympic qualifying standard, why would FINA arbitrarily choose a swimmer who does not own an Olympic qualifying time when four other of his teammates do?

Why does FINA feel that a rule clause within the "universality quota" that a swimmer must have swam at world Championships take precedence over four other Indian swimmers that met the time standards?

It appears India has been forced to accept this decision and the Indian men's team will be a "team of one."

Have you noticed that the governing bodies run their operations like "kingdoms" with absolute authority rather than administrators so that the best man or woman can win? I am astonished that FINA can veto a team.


Anonymous said...

Well, he can't swim the 800 as it's not offered on the Men's side.

Tony Austin said...

YEs, men don't swim the 800 in the Olympics but at Worlds they do which makes it more perplexing since the Indians had swimmers who had QTs for other men;s event but not the 1500. :-(

Anonymous said...

I liked Philip Hersh's comment, LA Times article, dated June 25,2012, pertaining to Felix and Tarmoh - track and field athletes tied for third place.

"The fact that officials never foresaw it, quickly botched it and dithered over resolving it seemed once again to underline the sad truth that the only amateurs left in Olympic sports are those who run them".

Canuckswimmer said...

There are three levels of qualifying times for the Olympics. The top tier is "Invitational" (formerly known as "A" qualifying). Americans are most familiar with this level in swimming as it allows the country two automatic berths at the Games. To get this time a swimmer has to swim fast enough to place in roughly the top 25 of the world.
The next level is "Qualifying" (formerly known as "B" qualifying). A country having swimmers who only meet this standard will be limited to only one contestant in that event. But ... and there's a big but, entries are limited and the submitted time must be fast enough to be under the threshold. For example they might allow 160 swimmers to compete in the 100 free. After deducting the "A" qualifyiers there might be 140 spots left. If we say for the purposes of this example that FINA reserves another sixteen places for "C" qualifiers (more on that later) it means "B" qualifiers are competing for a total of 124 spots. Consequently if the athlete's time isn't fast enough to be within the top 144 then he or she will not be selected to go to the Olympics despite meeting the "qualifying" times.
Now if a country can't place a swimmer in either of the first two categories (one male and one female) then it can request they be allowed to send representatives under the "Universality" quota (formerly known as "C" qualifying). The key to qualifying under this quota are that the much easier qualifying times must be achieved at the preceeding World Championships - likely an effort to force countries to submit legitimate athletes (even if not of true Olympian stature) rather than, say, sending El Presidente's daughter to the party at the IOC's expense.
So I can surmise from the article from Hindu Sport that 1) the four male "B" qualifiers India had in swimming didn't make the cut; and 2) none of them competed at last year's World Championships. This meant that FINA, scrambling to find a way to qualify a single male from the world's second most populous country to compete in the Olympic's second largest venue, had to find a event where there were still places available after all the applications for this year's Olympics had been considered. Apparently the men's 1500 free is not a particularly popular event amongst non-swimming nations (smile).

Tony Austin said...

OK smarty pants ;-)

I got a rebuttal - I would like to pretend that I did the research the summarily had the smarts you rub your nose in it but a person versed in the rules is coaching me...

"...Your one commenter is semi-correct. The four "B" cuts aren't guaranteed anymore after the IOC was adamant about complying with the athlete cap this year. So, when running the "B" cuts, THe Indians were not good enough so they went to "universality" option, which is their way to make sure if a country wants to swim, they can.

Not sure why they chose the one guy, but that is why all four missed. it used to be one "B" cut per nation in each event, but the athlete cap changed that..."

Canuckswimmer said...

I'm semi-correct? Sometimes people want to be right so badly that they fall over themselves trying to produce something, anything at all, which justifies their first ill-chosen words. Just like here when "someone versed in the rules" immediately follows his or her 'critique' with the statement "The four "B" cuts aren't guaranteed anymore after the IOC was adamant about complying with the athlete cap this year" - words which, in fact, align perfectly with my own comments that "B" qualification don't guarantee anyone a spot in this Olympics.
My apologies if you took my comment as criticism as that was not my intent. It was merely intended to correct your obvious ignorance and show that FINA's rejection of India's candidates was not due to some arbitrary whim or feudalistic overlordship as you portrayed, but rather due to well set out rules and standards made known to all years in advance.

Tony Austin said...

Oh please, I don't feel an overlordship that you suggest. Often on the blog I credit my readers for being more knowledgeable than I am.

In fact I asked you once to write an article for me since I felt you could do a better job, you agreed and I received nothing.

If you feel I do write with the flare of an overlord, go restart your own blog and do a better job.