LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Fatima Whitbread warns athletes not to switch countries

EXCLUSIVE: Athletes must stop country hopping, warns Whitbread



21:40 GMT, 30 March 2012

Athletes should not be allowed to compete for more than one country, according to former world champion javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread.

The 1988 Olympic silver medallist said it ‘wasn’t right’ that some sportsmen and women were able to ‘jump ship and go for the easy option’ once they had worn a national vest.

‘It’s been going on for years,’ Whitbread told Sportsmail of the country-hopping tactic. ‘If you go back to apartheid time — Zola Budd came over and competed for Britain, didn’t she.

Transfer: Hurdler Tiffany Porter switched to represent Great Britain

Transfer: Hurdler Tiffany Porter switched to represent Great Britain

‘With multicultural Britain now, as it is all round the world, there’s more and more of that going on.

‘I think the Germans would once have prided themselves on being Teutonic but a lot of Turkish players compete for the Germany football team.

‘I don’t think it’s right that if they can’t get in for one country they come and jump ship and go for the easy option.

Making her point: Former Javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread

Making her point: Former Javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread

‘If they’re good enough then stick with that country. That’s where it’s best.’

The 51-year-old has a multicultural heritage herself, having been born in London to a Turkish Cypriot mother and Greek Cypriot father, before being adopted by her coach Margaret Whitbread aged 14. She always competed for Britain.

The 100m hurdler Tiffany Porter, among others, has been criticised as being a ‘Plastic Brit’ for transferring her allegiance to Britain from the US, where she has lived her entire life, after failing to make the grade.

Whitbread said that if a foreign javelin thrower had switched to Britain while she was competing it would not have upset her because ‘I wanted to be the best come what may, whether they’re in my country or not’.

But she did admit that some athletes could get ‘tetchy’ if they felt their chance of glory was being taken away by imported rivals.

Fatima Whitbread will be joining a host of sporting celebrities and live music acts for the Gold Challenge Olympic Stadium event tomorrow.
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