Athletics

Akabusi hails Sharp selection

British athletics legend Kriss Akabusi has praised the controversial selection of Lynsey Sharp for London 2012.

 
Akabusi hails selection - AthleticsPA Photos
 

Sharp got the nod for the women's 800m ahead of seasoned campaigners including Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro, and Akabusi believes head coach Charles van Commenee got it spot on in favouring the in-form athlete.

Speaking exclusively to Eurosport-Yahoo!, he said: "I think that was right on the button.

"No disrespect to Jenny Meadows, who has been a great servant for Britain, but she has got no form at all because of her injuries.

"She was unable to compete at the European Championships, and while she has great pedigree we just don't know how well she is running because she has not raced all season.

"If you want someone who has performed in the past, you might as well pick me!

"Lynsey Sharp is in there on merit and rightly so. She won the trials, and if you start excluding people who do that, you make a mockery of the whole selection process.

"I'm not advocating the American system, when absolutely everything comes down to the trials, but we have to reward athletes that are fit and in form."

Former 400m hurdler Akabusi spelled out the challenge facing Dai Greene if he wants to repeat his gold medal-winning performance from last-year's World Championship, facing strong competition from the likes of Javier Culson and Bershawn Jackson.

He said: "Dai can win, but it's not going to be easy. I think he will get a medal, and if he wants to do that he will have to break the British record - which is held by yours truly.

"To get a gold medal, he will potentially have to run 47.5, which is just incredible. That's right on the edge of his ability. That's my opinion, not Dai's, and what really matters is Dai's opinion.

"If he is going to run 47.5, he is going to have to push himself to the max, get everything right and then rely on a 20 per cent uplift from the crowd to get him across the line."

Akabusi also gave his approval to the selection of Dwain Chambers in the 100m and 4x100m hurdles, saying it was right to give the former drugs cheat a second chance.

"I am most definitely in the camp of second chances," he said.

"He transgressed in 2003, he was led down the path by an older gentleman, and there are so many stories of people getting into the wrong crowd or being led by the wrong person. If you don't allow young people to make mistakes and come back from them, you are sending the wrong message out to society."

"He has paid the penalty for his crime and come back into the fold, and he can be a powerful weapon to the younger generation - to say: 'I was lost but now I'm found.'"

And he said he still considered Usain Bolt favourite for the 100m and 200m, despite his defeats to countryman Yohan Blake at the Jamaican trials.

"Blake and Bolt have the same coach, but it doesn't mean they're on the same programme," he said.

"I think Blake's coach was getting him ready for the trials to make sure he got to the Games, and it depends on him maintaining that form for the Olympics. Usain may have a little bit of training in his legs, assuming he would be good enough to go to the trials and still get through, even at less than 100 per cent.

"I think it's great for Usain Bolt that he lost in these trials, because it means he can't go to the Olympic Games and start showboating. I don't like the showboating. I think you've got to respect your competitors.

"Usain goes there knowing he is not invincible. If he starts playing to the crowd and doing the 'Lightning Shuffle', he's going to look pretty silly if he crosses the line in second place."

Kriss Akabusi is a Yahoo! ambassador, speaking to promote their “Memorable Moments” Campaign. To find out more about this and to follow all the action this summer go to yahoo.co.uk/Olympics

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