LONDON 2012: Van Commenee shows ruthless streak to delight rising star Sharp
CHARLES van Commenee claimed current form trumped past experience after snubbing proven championship performer Jenny Meadows in favour of rising star Lynsey Sharp in his Olympic track and field team
SHOCK: Lynsey Sharp is the major surprise selection in Team GB's Olympic athletics team - at the expense of proven championship performer Jenny Meadows, who is battling injury (Getty Images)
The British head coach took the unprecedented decision of selecting just one 800m athlete with the B standard ahead of four athletes who have all achieved A standard times in the qualifictation window - including current British number one Marilyn Okoro.
And it was a massive vote of confidence in 21-year old Sharp, who won the national trials in Birmingham and claimed silver at last week's European Championships in Helsinki.
"It was a selection meeting that took six hours in total and two hours were spent on one event," admitted van Commenee.
"Five women were in contention. Four had multiple A standards and one did not, she had a few B standard times.
"The panel had to decide whether it would go for one athlete with a B standard or one, two or three on A standards.
"After all these deliberations and arguments it was decided that the most important factor was the right performance at the right time.
"Lots of people have the right performances at the wrong time but Lynsey Sharp has done good business recently, beat everyone at the trials and got a silver at the European Championship, beating athletes with some very good times.
"We decided she was the athlete with the best current form. It was difficult because not one of the athletes took control of their own destiny. The athletes made it difficult by not doing what they are supposed to do.
"And when you spend two hours on a single selection, that is a bad sign."
Van Commenee personally called Okoro - who immediately announced her intention to quit - and Meadows - who has said she will not appeal the decision - to break the bad news.
"It was very difficult to leave out Jenny because she has a proven track record, she's a world-class athlete," he added.
"But she hasn't raced since the World Championships last year. She couldn't compete last week in Helsinki because of her Achilles injury and that was an important factor here.
"Receiving the news is very emotional and it's not easy to give that news either. When I spoke to Marilyn on the phone she indicated that she would quit. I want to see how she feels in the next few days because I'd like her to be involved in the 4x400m relay team."
Meadows later released a statement expressing her disappointment, confirming she would not appeal and wishing Sharp good luck while Jemma Simpson, another athlete who was selectable with A standard times, albeit from 2011, was quick to hit out at the decision.
"Most countries would celebrate the fact that an event group is so strong, not penalise the athletes by not selecting them," she wrote on Twitter.
"Tax payers have spent a lot of money on the home Olympics. Don't they deserve to see full representation of GB athletes!?"
Meanwhile, Scot Sharp admitted she was stunned by her selection - and she will follow her father Cameron, who represented Great Britain at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
"It was absolutely amazing when I got the news, I was shaking and crying," she said.
"I knew when it was a random number calling that I was getting the selectors' decision, I just hoped it was good news.
"I know it was a huge decision to take me only but I've gained confidence from their confidence in me. If I'd not had six weeks off in January I would have had the time by now and I know now that I can perform well at championships.
"I've not spoken to my Dad yet, I know he'll be completely over the moon for me."
Van Commenee has long targeted eight medals at the Games, with his squad fronted by Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Dai Greene and Phillips Idowu - although not all are showing ideal form and fitness.
That would double the medal tally from Beijing, while the 71-strong squad he has named is the largest since 1992, with representation in all but four events.
"In sports nothing is certain," added van Commenee.
"We have the potential but there is a lot of opposition in the arena and they are preparing seriously as well. We have some strong athletes, but to say I'm confident goes a bit too far."
© Sportsbeat 2012