Leanda Cave says she is embarrassed about the policy of the Welsh triathlon program for the Commonwealth Games after they neglected to name her to the team and think in terms of the big picture. She admitted that it is too late for her to replace injured world champions Non Stanford or Helen Jenkins. Stanford, Jenkins and Holly Lawrence were picked ahead of Cave for the triathlon.
Two-time world triathlon champion Jenkins has now also been forced to withdraw from the Games with a foot injury. Wales could have had a dream team of world champions in Stanford, Jenkins and Cave, but they lost reigning world champion Stanford to a fracture in her ankle in June. She was replaced by Carol Bridge, a 29-year-old accident and emergency nurse.
“I’m almost embarrassed for the Welsh team right now,” said Cave, who won the ITU World Championship and a Commonwealth Games silver in 2002 before concentrating on longer distances.
“We could have had the best team in the world and we are now down to nothing really,” said Cave. “I’m a totally able bodied athlete without injury, prepared to put it on the line for my country and I can’t because the selectors didn’t have the foresight to see that they should always have a plan B.”
This latest loss to the Welsh team highlights the contentious selection process such as experienced when New Zealand left their superstar Nicky Samuels off the team, forcing her through a lengthy appeal process which was eventually successful.
“I’m in the shape of my life. I’ve not been this fit for many years,” said Cave. “I wasn’t even selected as reserve and the worst case scenario just happened with Helen pulling out. I can’t imagine how awful this is for Helen,” she continued.
Cave was very sympathetic to Jenkins, “She’s also come back from injury and to be in top form and then before one of the biggest events of her career she’s injured again. It’s a very sad state of affairs.”
Triathlon Wales says it is deciding whether to replace Jenkins but said any decision will be made with “medal targets in mind.” Cave said, “It’s probably very unlikely even if they did want me on the team. I wouldn’t be able to get through the red tape.”