Lynsey Sharp, who won the Olympic trial at 800m last weekend, ran the fastest time of her life last night, but her time of 2min 00.52sec fell 0.62 outside the required Olympic qualifying time. Jemma Simpson, a rival, was a distant seventh in 2:02.14.
This was bitter-sweet. A spokesman for UK Athletics confirmed that no athlete without the A qualifying standard could be considered when selectors meet on Monday.
Sharp was second slowest in the field but surpassed expectations, reaffirming her reputation as an outstanding championship runner. She has already won bronze at European under-23 level and the Commonwealth Youth Games. Despite being a metre clear of the Russian bronze medallist, she said: "I had no idea I was second until the flowers were stuck in my hand."
It is 30 years since her father, Cameron, won 200m silver at the European Championships in Athens, and 29 since he ran at the inaugural World Championships on the same Helsinki track. Seriously injured as the result of an accident, he watched on TV. Delighted, he said: "Now she is the same as me – a European medallist."
When he came out of a coma two decades ago, he did not even recognise his daughter and enquired who the wee girl was. Now she third fastest Scot ever, and third in Britain this year. She has beaten the two women ahead of her in the rankings, but they are selectable because they have the A standard.
The waters are further clouded by threats from Jenny Meadows, who won world bronze in 2009. Meadows says she will take her case to an appeal tribunal if she is omitted. She has not stepped on a track in competition since last September, having spent two months in an orthopaedic boot following tendon surgery. Indeed, she had not worn spikes this year, even in training, until less than three weeks ago. She is relying on qualifying times in previous years, and her world bronze in 2009. A selfish streak is required to be an Olympic athlete, but if she had any respect for her rivals, she would have delayed her comments until after last night's race.
If Meadows is selected, it will be at the discretion of performance director Charles van Commenee, but there can be no doubt that the current fittest and fastest UK two-lap woman is Sharp. The selection policy, not for the first time, will fail to deliver those with the best credentials to perform with distinction. Sharp could embarrass selectors when she competes in the British Grand Prix but it will be too late.
Selection policy for London runs to 11 pages, and is to say the least, confusing. The UKA selection document for the European event was a six-page policy that offered no appeal, leaving two other Scots with good reason to wonder why slower English 1500m rivals were promoted to that European team.
Chris O'Hare and David Bishop can consider themselves shabbily treated by the system. Englishmen James Brewer and Tom Lancashire were named for Helsinki before the UK trials. Neither had run as fast as the Scots this year. Also named was James Shane, despite not having contested a 1500m at all this year. He has run only one track race.
Lancashire then finished fifth in the trials in Birmingham while Brewer did not even make the final. O'Hare was third behind Andy Baddeley and Ross Murray, but the European places were filled. The shambolic process was compounded when he then withdrew from the process. "Baddeley and Murray will go to the Olympics on merit. Absolutely no question, and we wish them every success," said O'Hare's father, Tony, yesterday.
Chris did not wish to speak, so angry and frustrated was the US-based runner. His son feels angry and upset, and was guarding his tongue, but his father said: "He feels cruelly overlooked, and let down by the UK governing body, but we are grateful for all the support from scottishathletics."
They had tried to arrange a race for O'Hare at Glasgow's Scotstoun last night, but UKA had made it clear during the week that he would have to run the A standard twice this week. Perhaps scottishathletics should demand to know why English athletes appear to be being favoured by UKA.
"There is no objective evidence for having selected Shane, Brewer or Lancaster ahead of the two Scots," said Mr O'Hare. "To me that is wrong and unfair. As a consequence they have been denied the opportunity at the Europeans to seek the Olympic standard, and have been funded to do so. Dave Bishop should actually have been selected first, and my son, a fraction slower, immediately after him."
Tulsa University, where Chris is a scholarship student, minimised competition over the past season, because they knew the emphasis he put on European Championships selection – a rare attitude from a US college."
Athletes must be confused at the mixed messages being put out by UKA. Dwain Chambers has no A standard this year, but has been given the nod that his Olympic place is secure. So a convicted drugs cheat is given more latitude than clean athletes with impeccable records who play within the rules.