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Australian team chief Green tells athletes to stop complaining

07/25/2012 09:51 EDT | Updated 09/24/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - From athletes complaining about selection criteria to media speculating on the fitness of triple gold medallist swimmer Leisel Jones, Australian Olympic team chief Nick Green has had enough. And the opening ceremony is still two days away.

On Wednesday, the leader of Australia's delegation told sprinter Josh Ross to "get on with the job," after Ross complained that he should have been given an individual spot in the 100 metres and not selected just for the 4x100-meter relay.

Last week, 400-meter runner John Steffenen, who has South African heritage but was born in Australia, threatened to boycott the games after only being given a spot on the 4x400-meter relay, alleging racism along the way.

Australian newspapers published unflattering photos of Jones, suggesting she may be out of shape as she prepares for her fourth Olympics.

Before addressing what he called the "disgraceful" way Jones was being treated by the media, Green said Ross should "get his head down and run for this country."

The 31-year-old Ross says he's unhappy at not being selected for the individual 100-meter sprint despite clocking a qualifying standard time. He said he might quit the relay squad if he doesn't get a satisfactory answer.

"There has been no official complaint logged to the AOC, I've only read what has been in the papers today," Green told a news conference in the Olympic Park. "It is an honour to represent this country at the games and if any athletes don't want to be part of it then we'll have that conversation."

"The selection policy has been in place for many years, if an athlete has a complaint with their selection they have the right of appeal and every athlete is given that opportunity. Josh had the opportunity to make an appeal but he didn't. It's time for the athletes to knuckle down and get on with the job."

Steffensen, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist , was passed over for an individual spot in the 400 by Athletics Australia. That spot was instead given to teenager Steve Solomon, who also achieved an Olympic "B'' qualifying time.

Last week, Steffensen said the decision "only makes our sport look stupid."

"I've put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams," said Steffensen, who won relay silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics and bronze at the 2009 world championships. "You know it would help if I was a different colour. No, they can have athletics. I don't need to do this anymore." He didn't elaborate on the allegations.

Jones could claim weight discrimination after unflattering photos taken during a training session.

"I think it's disgraceful to be honest." Green said. "I'm disappointed with the article and it's extremely unfair on Leisel Jones. She is a triple Olympic gold medallist for this country, I think she deserves a lot more respect than she has been given."

The 26-year-old Jones won the 100-meter breastroke at Beijing in 2008 and is competing at her fourth Olympics.

Her coach Michael Bohl said he was happy with Jones' condition.

"She's been doing nine sessions a week, and two gym sessions a week coming into this, and we were really happy with her form," Bohl was quoted as saying.

Jones was supported by former 400-meter track gold medallist Cathy Freeman, who described the comments about the swimmer's weight "un-Australian."

"It's not very friendly or encouraging at this stage," Freeman said.

Jones denied she was feeling pressure about her weight.

"I'm so relaxed, and I'm just really enjoying everything about these games and the lead-up," she said.

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