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Home / News / Sophie Coldwell “angry at federation” after missing out on Olympic spot

Sophie Coldwell “angry at federation” after missing out on Olympic spot

Sophie Coldwell has penned an emotional statement in response to missing out on an Olympic spot for Paris 2024, hitting out at British Triathlon's selection panel. Here's what's happened...

Sophie Coldwell
Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Britain’s Sophie Coldwell has shared her reaction to missing out on selection for this summer’s Paris Olympics, criticising British Triathlon’s selection panel and talking of her disappointment and anger.

The reaction comes after Team GB’s triathlon Olympic team was announced this morning, which saw Jonny Brownlee also miss out.

With Alex Yee and Beth Potter already confirmed after securing automatic selection, the final spots were chosen by British Triathlon’s selection panel and awarded to reigning silver Olympic medallist Georgia Taylor-Brown, 2023 under-23 world champ Kate Waugh and Sam Dickinson.

In an emotional statement posted to her Instagram account in response to the outcome, Coldwell wrote: “Firstly I want to say congratulations to everyone who’s qualified for the games, I wish you the best of luck for the summer.

“But for me, I’m disappointed, l’m sad but above all I’m angry at my federation.

“After the original selection was made, it became clear that I needed to appeal, so with the help of those closest to me and my lawyers the appeal was submitted.

The result of the appeal

Writing about the appeal, Coldwell said: “We then found out we won the appeal, the arbitrator approved it on the grounds of ‘failing to follow the selection policy’.

“The panel failed to priorities [sic] and accordingly weight their priority event, Cagliari. And, although it couldn’t be approved on the grounds of bias, it was commented that there was some unfair and bias comments throughout the selection meeting notes.

“The panel would have to meet again, to redo selection and use their policy properly. I knew it would be an uphill battle to get them to admit they had made a mistake, but I thought a fair and competent panel would get it right.

“But no, still not enough,” Coldwell wrote. “This was never a personal attack against other athletes but one against a federation who ultimately decides who’s dreams are made or not, and unfortunately I wasn’t on the right side of the decision.

“After reading the second selection meeting notes, I’m even more angry and disappointed in the federation, 19 pages of lip service.”

Coldwell’s recent record

Sophia Coldwell puts her hands over her mouth as she crosses the line to win her first WTCS race in Yokohama, 2023
Sophie Coldwell wins her first-ever WTCS race, in Yokohama, Japan, May 2023

Coldwell had delivered a solid return on her racing over the last 12 months. The Commonwealth Games relay champion began 2023 with a silver at WTCS Abu Dhabi in March, which was followed up with a win at WTCS Yokohama in May.

She finished in 13th (WTCS Montreal), 14th (WTCS Hamburg) and 20th (Paris Test Event) in the next three races, before a seventh-place at the WTCS Finals in Pontevedra.

Crucially, at WTCS Cagliari in May this year – the event that British Triathlon said would have a strong bearing on its selection decisions (find out more about the selection criteria) – Coldwell outperformed compatriot Waugh to finish seventh, with the latter crossing the line in 10th.

Waugh also had a decent year. While her 2023 season opened with 32nd in Abu Dhabi, she took fifth in Yokohama, 15th in Montreal, seventh in Paris and helped secure silver in the relay event in Paris.

She then delivered a standout performance at the WTCS Finals in Pontevedra, finishing second behind Beth Potter.

This year, Waugh finished 10th in both WTCS Yokohama and WTCS Cagliari.

British Triathlon responds

In response to Coldwell’s statement on Instagram, a spokesperson at British Triathlon said: “The decision not to select Sophie Coldwell was an incredibly difficult one that the panel only reached after much discussion and deliberation.

“Sophie is a world class athlete, as demonstrated by her training and racing results, and her omission simply reflects the strength of our female programme.

“We will continue to support Sophie and understand her disappointment. We will work with her towards her races across the rest of the year.

“2024 World Triathlon Championship Series Cagliari was stated as a priority race on which decisions could be made as part of the selection policy, however it was not a qualification race to determine selection.

“Whilst the performances and results from this race were part of the discussions during the selection meeting and given the additional weight that its priority status requires, there was no distinct difference that could be made between athletes on this race alone. Therefore, the full range of criteria were discussed in coming to the final selection decisions.”

“An awful couple of weeks”

Finishing her statement on Instagram, Coldwell said: “After spending the last two years doing everything possible to make that team, l thought I had ticked the boxes the federation asked of me, l believed I’d done enough.

“I didn’t want to be in this position, feeling let down by my federation by their process and inability to follow a selection policy.

“It’s been an awful couple of weeks but above all I want to make sure those who follow me in the future won’t ever be in this same position.”

Want to find out more? Here’s who’s qualified already and here’s how to watch triathlon at the Olympics.

Profile image of Rob Slade Rob Slade

About

Rob Slade is 220 Triathlon's Content Editor. He joined the team in April 2021 and has a background in adventure sports, which he developed during his time as editor of Adventure Travel magazine. Always up for an adventure, he's motivated by good views and regularly uses the scenery as an excuse for taking so long to complete events. While he may lack speed, he always retains his positive disposition, probably because he knows a pint will be waiting for him at the end.