Posted: Monday, July 5, 2021. 2:42 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Samantha Dirks will represent Belize at the Tokyo Olympics in the 400m race, according to the Belize Athletics Association (BAA). Dirks joins Shaun Gill who had been informed since Tuesday, June 29, of his selection.
Today the BAA said in a press release that it “congratulates its two athletes selected to represent Belize at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan. Female – Samantha Dirks – 400m Male – Shaun Gill – 100m.”
“This selection was based on their performances over the years leading up to the Olympic Games. We are confident that these two athletes will continue to represent us well at this event,” said the BAA.
The Tokyo Olympics in Japan start on July 23 and run until August 3.
While Gill knew from last week Tuesday that he would be making the trip, Dirks had to wait because of what BAA president Deon Sutherland referred to as “a mix-up” between the International Olympic Committee and World Athletics.
“There was a mix-up, but in the male we have made the selection for Shaun,” said BAA president Deon Sutherland last Wednesday, June 30 confirming that Gill was headed to Tokyo to represent Belize in the 100m.
The BAA said that after Belizean athletes did not make the qualifying times, the BAA reportedly recommended Samantha Dirks for the 200m and Shaun Gill for the 100m to the International Olympic Committee for consideration for Universality Places (UP). The International Olympic Committee normally invites one men’s athlete and one women’s athlete when no one from a country qualifies directly to the Olympics.
Last week, Sutherland said that he had been unofficially informed that the International Olympic Committee had given an ‘UP’ to Dirks. However, when the notification came from World Athletics, the world governing body for athletics, the spot was for 100m open, so it was awarded to Gill, who is Belize’s best 100m runner.
Sutherland said the BAA immediately re-applied on Dirks’ behalf.
Since Dirks’ specialties are the 200m and the 400m. The BAA had recommended her for the 200m because she has the closest to the qualifying times set by World Athletics in that event. Still, when the notification came for Dirks, it is for the 400m and not the 200m.
Both Gill and Dirks were among four Belizean athletes who were on Olympic Solidarity Scholarships since 2018. The other two were Mark Anderson and Hilary Gladden. According to Sutherland, Olympic Solidarity funded them to train to help them qualify to the Olympics.
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