Athletics: Emma puts London heartbreak behind her to look ahead to Rio
E MMA Jackson admits she might have to buy a plane ticket out of the country for August after her appeal to be instated into the Great Britain team for the London Olympic Games was rejected yesterday.
The 800m runner, from Newcastle, was overlooked in favour of Lynsey Sharp, despite running the necessary "A" standard qualifying time compared to the young Scot's back-up "B" standard.
And that decision was confirmed by a UK Athletics appeal panel yesterday.
The original decision was greeted with outrage by Olympic legends such as Kelly Holmes and Denise Lewis, and they are unlikely to be any less disgusted by the confirmation that Jackson will not run in London next month.
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But the decision could only be overturned if it was proven that the UK Athletics selection panel had an error in the statistics they used to consider who to take, or did not properly follow their own procedures.
And so the three-man panel duly rejected the protest yesterday afternoon, as well as turning down appeals from Marilyn Okoro and Jemma Simpson, who also held "A" times.
With UK 100m champion Ashleigh Nelson also left out of the squad, North Staffordshire will now have no representation in the track events at the home Olympics.
"I never really thought they would change the decision but I just had to try," said 24-year-old Jackson, who put her training to be a teacher on hold in a bid to qualify for London.
"The whole month from when I broke my rib before the trials through to this has been the hardest of my life, and I am so thankful for my family and coach (Alan Morris) for their support.
"I'm so disappointed for the city. I wanted to make sure there was a Stokie for us to cheer on the track at the Olympics and it's heartbreaking that I miss out due to an injustice.
"At the moment I don't think I could stomach watching the Games, so I might have to take a foreign holiday.
"I was planning to really get into all the sports, but I don't know. I might feel differently in a month's time.
"I have to try to channel the disappointment into something positive."
Sharp, a 21-year-old from Edinburgh, won the 800m trial at Birmingham last month when Jackson was suffering from a fractured rib.
She went on to claim a silver medal at a depleted European Championships in Helsinki last weekend.
An eight-strong selection panel met on Monday to make their decision, under the guidance of head coach Charles van Commenee.
International rules meant no "A" standard athletes could be selected once the panel opted for Sharp because the system is designed to favour elite athletes, not those with the secondary "B" times.
But they opted to take her anyway after considering her current form and fitness.
Jackson, who is now nearing full fitness again, will be entered in races around the time of the Olympics – but she is already switching her focus to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
By then, she plans to have moved up to 1,500m following advice from her mentor Holmes, who won gold at that distance and the 800m in Athens eight years ago.
Jackson's coach, Alan Morris, said: "We expect Emma to keep improving over the next four years and over the next couple of years we will make the switch to the longer race.
"The way she has developed as a runner we believe she can be more competitive, and as her endurance builds up she should be a genuine medal prospect.
"At the moment we are trying to maximise her potential over 800m, and she will show the selection panel over the rest of the season they have made the wrong decision."
Brave Jackson shows real spirit of the Olympics: Page 3