LONDON – Britain's rhythmic gymnastics group won its appeal Monday after missing out on a place for the London Olympics.
Britain's governing body for gymnastics said it will nominate a rhythmic group to the British Olympic Association. The BOA would then accept the automatic host nation place in the London Games offered by the International Gymnastics Federation.
"It's been a bit of a tough journey but we're so happy that it's gone in our favor," team captain Rachel Smith said. "We're really sad that it happened but on the bright side it has raised the profile of the sport."
Britian's rhythmic group filed an appeal after falling .273 short of the 45.223 benchmark score set by British Gymnastics during qualifications at the Olympic test event in London in January. But the British scored 47.20 points during the group final, and said in their appeal that they had not known their selection was to be based solely on the qualification stage.
British Gymnastics had set the benchmark to ensure its group could make a respectable showing at the London Games. Britain has never qualified a rhythmic group for an Olympics, and has had little success at the world championships.
"We were confident that we had put in place a transparent, fair and equitable selection policy and associated qualifying score to allow a rhythmic group to self-determine their nomination to the BOA and subsequent participation in the London 2012 Olympic games," Jane Allen, CEO of British Gymnastics, said in a statement.
But the group's appeal was upheld by a sports arbitration body, with Arbitrator Graeme Mews saying he was "not persuaded" the qualification process had been made clear to the gymnasts and their coaches.
"Regardless of what was intended and what was or was not discussed, it would seem that the policy could easily have included language which clearly and unequivocally stated that the GB Group would have only one opportunity in the qualification stage of the test event to achieve the benchmark score," Mews wrote. "But it did not."
The rhythmic competition is Aug. 10-12 at Wembley Arena.
"We accept his ruling," Allen said.
Frankie Jones had already given the host nation a spot in individual rhythmic gymnastics, qualifying at last fall's world championships. Britain also will send full teams in both men's and women's artistic gymnastics, a first since the boycotted games in 1984.