One of South Africa’s top gymnasts has launched an urgent application against the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), in a bid to go to the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month.
Shannon Gardiner, 18, who says she’s ranked third in the Commonwealth, has asked the High Court in Pretoria to set aside Sascoc’s decision to only send Grace Legote and Chris-Marie van Wyk as SA’s rhythmic gymnasts, and to order Sascoc to include her on the team.
She maintained Sascoc’s reasoning that she had not competed at the world championships, after being injured in the trials, and was sixth at the national championships, was irrational and arbitrary because it ignored her Commonwealth ranking.
The SA Gymnastics Federation appealed Sascoc’s decision to only send the two gymnasts, but Sascoc stuck to its original decision.
Sascoc yesterday argued that Gardiner’s application had been fatally flawed from the start and should be dismissed with a punitive costs order.
Sascoc argued that SA had already used up all of its 101 spots for individual sports and that it would be impossible to send Gardiner to the Commonwealth Games, even if the court granted such an order.
Sascoc argued that the effect of what Gardiner was asking the court would be that either Legote or Van Wyk would have to be replaced by Gardiner.
Legote was presently training in Russia for the Games and Van Wyk was training in South Africa, but Gardiner did not cite either of them as respondents in her application.
Sascoc said it was not undermining the hard work Gardiner had put in, or the emotional toll the decision was taking on her, but said Legote and Van Wyk had trained equally hard and having to be left out of the team at this late stage would have an equally devastating emotional effect on them.
They argued that even if the court sided with Gardiner, it would not be in a position to decide which of the other gymnasts she should replace and even if Sascoc made such a decision and lodged an appeal with the Commonwealth Games committee to substitute one of the athletes, that committee might refuse.
The application continues.