Teenage shot-put sensation Jacko Gill has an age issue; the Dom-Post reports:
He's old enough and good enough for the Olympics, but teenage shot put sensation Jacko Gill will have to apply for a special dispensation to compete in the New Zealand national championships.
The 17-year-old wonderkid, who stunned the country last year with an amazing training video on YouTube, has already surpassed the Olympic selection qualifying distance with a throw of 20.38m and is eligible to compete in London in July and August because he turns 18 this year.
However, Athletics New Zealand has set its qualifying age at 19 for the national track and field championships on March 23, meaning Jacko has to lodge a special plea to be allowed to compete.
His father, Walter, said it was ridiculous that quality athletes could be ineligible to enter competitions in their home country.
If an athlete was capable of competing at a certain level they should be allowed to, no matter how old they were, he said.
"It's not like Kiwis are soft or anything; we have this macho culture with rugby and everything. If the person is good enough to enter, they should be able to enter."
It certainly seems absurd that Gill has to lodge an application for dispensation, especially when it looks as though Athletics New Zealand will simply rubber-stamp it; read on:
Athletics New Zealand said that, as long as Jacko lodged an application, there was no question of his being allowed to compete.
He was one of the big drawcards of the championships, sport manager Brett Addison said. "Of course we do want Jacko to compete ... It's kind of like having an NPC final without Richie McCaw."
The increased age limit had been put in place to protect athletes who might be pushed too hard by "overenthusiastic" parents or coaches.
"Athletes like Jacko are the exception; that's why there's a clause in the rule that says athletes can seek dispensation.
"But it's the same stuff for most rules you put in place: you don't make rules for the exceptions, you make rules for most of the people.
"We're expecting Jacko to apply for dispensation and it's no big deal, he will be granted it."
Surely the most simple solution to this issue would be for Athletics New Zealand to INVITE Gill to participate in the Nationals, given that he has already qualified for the Olympics, where the standard of competition was be light years tougher. That way Gill is spared the bother of applying for a dispensation, and Athletics New Zealand avoids looking like a laughing stock with its outdated rules.