Arbitrator Rules Against Top Canadian Distance Ace; MacGillivary Won’t Go to Athens

By Phillip Whitten

TORONTO, July 21. FIRST there was Mark Foster of England. Now it's Canada's Kurtis MacGillivary.

Last month, four-time British Olympian lost his appeal after he won the 50m free at the British Trials but was 5-hundredths of a second slower than the cut-off time established by Britain's National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham, equal to tenth place in last year's world rankings.

Foster, a former short course world record-holder, finished second at last year's World Championships in Barcelona.

Yesterday, a similar fate befell Canada's talented distance ace, Kurtis Macgillivary, a potential Olympic finalist, when an arbitrator rejected his appeal to be included on the Canadian Olympic team after he failed to meet the criterion of posting a time equal to or faster than twelfth place in last year's world rankings.

After the decision, MacGillivary's Canadian coach, Dean Boles, decried Swimming Canad's "cloudy decisions" over the past four years.

The story was first reported by Beverly Smith in the Toronto Globe & Mail.

MacGillivary, who has trained in Australia the past two years with world record-holder Grant Hackett, won the 1,500-meter freestyle at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto two weeks ago, finishing in 15:16 — some 25 seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer. But his time was just shy of the top-12 world standard of 15:12.70.

In April, competing at the Australian Trials against world-class competition, MacGillivary touced in 15:11.38. Swimming Canada, however, refused to accept a time achieved at the Aussie Trials.

The arbitrator ruled it could not amend an agreement made by experts.

Coach Boles argued that the decision was wrong because MacGillivary competed against much tougher competition in Australia than he did in Canada, where he was not pushed after the 1,000-meter mark.

"I think they [Swimming Canada] need to look inside themselves and say we need to make different technical decisions," he said.

He added that coaches have asked for a technical review after the Olympics because of "so many cloudy decisions over the last four years. . . . I think we'll see a bit of a blowout. We may not see good results in Athens.''

MacGillivary put it more emotionally: "Swimming Canada is totally against us," he said.