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By Ilse de Lange


Top gymnast loses court bid against Sascoc

Rhythmic gymnast Shannon Gardiner brought an urgent application in an effort to be included in the team for the Commonwealth Games.

One of South Africa’s top gymnasts has lost her urgent application against the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to be included in the South African team for the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month.

Judge Elizabeth Kubushi dismissed the application by Shannon Gardiner, 18, to set aside Sascoc’s decision to only send Grace Legote and Chris-Marie van Wyk to compete individually as South Africa’s rhythmic gymnasts in the Games, and to order Sascoc to include her on the team.

Gardiner described the ruling as a very sad moment in her life.

“I am disappointed that judgment was not in our favour, but it will not stop me from still competing as a gymnast for South Africa. I still want to make it to the big competitions,” she said.

Gardiner, who said she was ranked third in the Commonwealth, claimed that Sascoc’s reasoning that she had not competed at the World Championships (she was injured during the trials) and therefore did not qualify for inclusion was irrational, arbitrary and unfair.

The SA Gymnastic Federation (SAGF), which recommended that Legote, Van Wyk and Gardiner should be sent to the Games as a team, lodged an appeal, but Sascoc stuck to its original decision.

Sascoc allowed only two slots for rhythmic gymnastics as South Africa was only allocated 101 slots for the Games, and the rest of the slots had been allocated to deserving athletes in other events.

Kubushi said Sascoc and the SAGF had agreed to select gymnasts based on their results at the World Championships. The SAGF had used Gardiner’s results at lower-ranked events to calculate her ranking and thus her claim to be the top ranked SA rhythmic gymnast in the Commonwealth was “deeply flawed”.

Kubushi said it made no difference whether Sascoc had been aware of Gardiner’s injuries, as the fact remained that she had not competed in the World Championships and Sascoc could not have considered her.

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