MELBOURNE, Australia, December 3. ELLEN Gandy, who represented Great Britain while training in Australia for the past five years, is officially working to become an Aussie for sports citizenship purposes.
Nicole Jeffery of the Australian reported today that Gandy and coach Rohan Taylor had been in discussions to make the switch since the Olympics, where Gandy failed to advance to the semifinals in the butterfly events. Gandy had been viewed as a strong medal contender at her home Olympics, but was one of many British swimmers to perform below expectations.
Gandy moved with her family to Australia from Beckenham in the United Kingdom when her father became deputy chief executive at the Melbourne Airport. Since then, she has been training in Melbourne with Taylor while representing Great Britain internationally. Gandy tells Jeffery that the thought of representing Australia had crossed her mind briefly, but was never a serious option in the years leading up to the London Olympics. Being only 21 years old, Gandy wasn't fully ready to end her career, and thought representing Australia was a logical choice.
“The last five years (living in Australia but competing for Britain) have been really, really difficult, especially the travelling,” Gandy said. “A lot of the time I felt like I was in limbo because I didn't feel Australian but I didn't really feel British either because I wasn't there all the time.”
Unfortunately, Gandy won't be able to swim for Australia at next summer's world championships and swim for a chance to defend her silver medal in the 200 fly. When athletes make sport citizenship changes, they must prove they have lived in their new country for at least a year, and take a year to transition to their new sports citizenship, according to FINA rules:
GR 2.6 Any competitor or competition official changing his affiliation from one national governing body to another must have resided in the territory of and been under the jurisdiction of the latter for at least twelve months prior to his first representation for the country.
Obviously, Gandy has the residency part handled, but the issue lies with the timeframe between representing countries. Gandy last swam for Great Britain on July 31 at the Olympics, where she finished 17th in the 200 fly despite being ranked in the top five globally before the meet. Next summer's world championships starts July 28. The article in the Australian indicates that Gandy's first major international meet could be the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014.
Gandy could make an immediate impact in the butterfly events for Australia when she dons the green and gold. With Jessicah Schipper stating that London was her final Olympic Games, Australia will look to Gandy to fill the gap in the 200 distance. Samantha Hamill, who swam in the 200 fly at the Olympics, is likely to be Australia's top swimmer in the event during Gandy's transition period, with times among domestic rivals falling off considerably behind her. As for the 100 fly, Gandy will battle Olympic bronze medalist Alicia Coutts for local supremacy in that event.