USACK addresses error made during sprint selection and qualification and vows to make improvements.

Jan. 20, 2009, 11:53 a.m. (ET)
In the competitions leading up to the Games this summer, we qualified a very disappointingly small team in sprint. In one case our staff interpreted the ICF Olympic Qualification procedures wrong. They were erroneously interpreted in a different way than they were actually applied by the ICF. This misunderstanding of the procedures by our national team coach was not caught by our other coaches and team staff, selection committee, by the High Performance Director or by me. Despite the men’s team winning two events at the Continental Qualifier, they did not earn any Olympic spots for the team.

USACK selection procedures and strategy for racing these events was based on a faulty assumption by USACK staff about the ICF criteria; and as a result of this mistake, the potential qualification opportunities for at least one of our athletes, an Olympian in 2004, were diminished. We regret and apologize for this mistake and understand the importance of giving every one of you the best and broadest opportunities possible to achieve your own Olympic goals.

We want to reassure our athletes that we understand the extreme sacrifices that they make in their quest to compete in the Olympics. We realize that our athletes have put everything else on hold in their life, (school, careers, families) and we intend to honor and respect their commitment by doing our jobs better and being more responsible in the way we make decisions regarding selection criteria issues.

The changes being made to our board, its policies and to our approach to team and athlete support and team selection are all intended to improve our overall results in the next four years. No one is satisfied to go to an Olympic Games with less than a full team or to return from one without any medals. Your staff understands that we play a key role in helping you achieve your best possible results and we look forward to raising the bar for ourselves in 2009.      

Best wishes to you all in the New Year.

David Yarborough
Executive Director
USA Canoe/Kayak