Pickering: ‘Plastic Brit’ debate is hypocritical

FOUR-TIME Olympian Karen Pickering has labelled the ‘Plastic Brit’ debate “hypocritical” after a group of overseas athletes represented Great Britain in last week’s World Indoor Athletic Championships in Istanbul.

The team were led by American-born Tiffany Porter at last weekend’s showpiece in Turkey and she performed well, winning silver in the women’s 60m hurdles, as the nation secured a record haul of medals at the event.

Triple-jumper Yamile Aldama, 39, who was born in Cuba, went one better and took gold. She applied for British Citizenship over a decade ago after marrying a Scottish man. She eventually secured it in 2010.

Around 50 of the 550 GB athletes competing at this summer’s Games will be from overseas but Pickering, who herself could have represented Holland – as a result of her mother being Dutch – is unsure why the GB Olympic team was being singled out for criticism for allowing overseas athletes to represent the nation.

“Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi were both born overseas and represent England at rugby, while there are countless cricketers, past and present, who were not born in this country, that represent England,” said former swimmer Pickering.


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“I am fascinated to know why the Olympic Games has been singled out. I feel it is a bit hypocritical.

“If the player or athlete has a legitimate reason to be competing for Great Britain and they qualify, then I don’t see why they should not be given the opportunity.”

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Pickering is against athletes being “married off” to represent a particular nation and also believes a UK coach for instance, training an athlete from another country could cause problems.

“One of the top Australian swimming coaches is currently coaching a Chinese swimmer and I can understand why that is maybe more of an issue, while I also think it is wrong if people are being ‘married off’ so they can represent a particular nation,” she said.

“But I could have swum for Holland as my mother is Dutch, while I know one of the girls on the British team, Zoe Baker, represented GB, then New Zealand and now swims for Great Britain again.

“Another swimmer, Joanna Fargus is the daughter of a Scottish father and Australian mother and represented England in the Commonwealth Games before switching to represent Australia. Her brother always represented Scotland.

“It happens all the time in other sports and no one raises an eyebrow.”

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