Two-time Team GB Olympic race walker Dominic King has accused British Athletics of being “a toxic governing body” which “fails to learn from its previous errors”.
Last year, in March of 2021, King broke the 50km race walk British record which had stood since 1990. Subsequently the 39-year-old from Essex has achieved the required qualifying time for the upcoming European Championships yet has been overlooked by Britain’s track and field governing body.
“Yet again I have not been selected for another major athletics championships,” he wrote on social media. “British Athletics have chosen not to select me to race in the forthcoming European Athletics Championships. “Despite meeting the qualifying entry standard, I somehow still do not earn my right to put on my nation’s vest.”
‘I am eligible’
British Athletics’ selection policy for the upcoming European Athletics Championships in Munich states: “British Athletics intends to select a team on the following aims: to maximise medal success… to provide opportunities for developing athletes to win… and to provide opportunities for athletes to achieve a GB&NI vest.”
Speaking to City A.M., King added: “I not only achieved the 35km race walk European Athletics standard but also the British Athletics standard by virtue of my 50km British record last year.
“I’ve also been eligible to be selected through an invite but British Athletics have chosen not to select me.”
The athlete, whose twin brother experienced rejection in 2008, added that he felt as though walking events and throws were treated as second class compared to others.
“It seems that the selection is based on who you are rather than your actual performances,” King wrote in his statement. “I can accept when I have not met a qualifying standard not to be taken but in this situation that threshold was met.”
Mental health in athletics
His situation varies slightly from the one that denied British 100m champion Jeremiah Azu a spot at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene last month.
Azu ran a qualifying time in the final of the British Championships that would have earned him a spot on the plane to Oregon but it was deemed invalid due to the wind reading and his prior best time was not good enough.
“The UKA Athletics Unified plan clearly states that athletics should be about the athlete,” added King, “[and that they] plan to select athletes in all senior events where they have qualified. I am yet to see any of this.”
King’s statement went out between the two sessions on Sunday’s athletics schedule, where a combined 60,000 packed into the Alexander Stadium to watch the track and field programme – including the race walk.
The 39-year-old also wrote that “British Athletics seem not to care about athletes’ mental health” and told City A.M. that greater transparency was needed in the appeals process for that reason.
Whether King appeals or not remains unknown — once the process is launched all parties are bound by confidentiality until a solution is found — but he appears to be the latest in a line of those upset with how the sport seems to conduct itself.
“I’ve been in athletics for 35 years,” he added. “I’d be damned if I’m walking away from an event I love and enjoy because individuals have reasons as to why they don’t select me.”
City A.M. approached British Athletics for a response to King’s statement but the organisation declined to comment.