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Guy Learmonth accuses British Athletics of ‘nonsense’ decision over World Indoor Championships

Guy Learmonth’s invite to the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow has been rejected  (Getty Images)
Guy Learmonth’s invite to the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow has been rejected (Getty Images)

Guy Learmonth has hit out at British Athletics after the governing body opted against selecting the 800m runner for the World Indoor Athletics Championships, describing the decision as “absolute nonsense”.

Learmonth had hoped to conclude his international indoor career on home soil in Glasgow and has been in impressive form, but was edged out in the 800m by Jack Higgins at the British national indoor championships in Birmingham last weekend to miss out on automatic selection.

A reprieve appeared to have come after becoming eligible through the World Athletics world rankings, but British Athletics declined to allow the middle-distance runner to compete, emphasising their priority to “optimise medal success and the number of top eight placings”.

With Higgins’ place down the rankings leaving him ineligible, it means Great Britain will have no entrant in the men’s 800m at their home event.

Learmonth believes the decision was “personal”, accusing the British national body of “toxicity and nepotism”.

“We all know this decision from BA is absolute nonsense,” Learmonth posted on Instagram. “my invite was the only World Athletics invite rejected and there is no consistency at all with these lot. Is it personal? 100%. I could pick apart their ‘justification’ till the cows come home but it’s like drawing blood from a stone with those blazers.

“This is an amazing sport that is being killed off by people in power that have no right to be there nor have any common sense whatsoever. My dream of finishing of my indoor campaign and my indoor career on not just home soil but my home track has been taken away, it’s devastating and it’s heartbreaking and it is completely illogical.

“This sport is unbelievably toxic and the only way to save our federation is for someone to raze it to the ground and rebuild from the ashes. It is deep rooted with toxicity and nepotism at the highest level. I’ve dealt with it my entire career and I’ve stayed quiet for years as I focused on myself and my own career but I can’t stay quiet on this anymore, they are crushing athletes dreams, ruining careers and physically, emotionally and financially breaking human beings, not athletes, but humans.”

British Athletics have sought to prioritise athletes with the chance to reach finals and contend for medals at major events over the last couple of years, excluding several qualified individuals from last year’s World Outdoor Championships.

Their selection policy’s stated aim for the upcoming event in Glasgow is to “optimise medal success and the number of top-eight finishes as the host nation”.

Just six male athletes were included in a 21-strong team originally named for the World Indoors, though Amelia Campbell, Amy Hunt, Scott Lincoln, Hannah Nuttall and Abigail Pawlett were subsequently added due to their world rankings.

Guy Learmonth (right) was pipped by Jack Higgins at the British Indoor Championships (Getty Images)
Guy Learmonth (right) was pipped by Jack Higgins at the British Indoor Championships (Getty Images)

Despite his snub, Learmonth remains intent on attempting to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

“I have represented my country at the highest level for 10-15 years and always performed through the roof on home soil, making finals and being ultra competitive, I wanted to come away with my first & last World Medal next weekend and I earned the right to be there.

“My federation have taken that away from me, again. I thought I was falling out of love for this sport but I’m not, I’m beyond disillusioned and disgusted by the people that run it. I will carry on running, I will be working relentlessly to qualify outright for the Paris Olympics and if I don’t, I’ll die trying.”

The World Indoor Championships start in Glasgow on Friday 1 March.