Joanna Mills opts not to appeal against 4x400m exclusion

Joanna Mills has decided not to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over her exclusion from the Irish 4x400m relay squad for the Olympics.

Mills missed out on a place at the London Games after Catriona Cuddihy won her appeal to the Olympic Council of Ireland against her de-selection.

"If I were successful in my [CAS] appeal, I don't think I would now be comfortable going into the environment of competing in London," said Mills.

Cuddihy is part of a six-women squad.

The Kilkenny athlete had originally been named in the squad but an appeal by Mills was upheld by Athletics Ireland.

The OCI tribunal found however that the initial selection of Cuddihy had been correct based on the full range of criteria.

It is understood that a legal technicality also played a part in the final decision as Athletics Ireland overstepped its remit by reinstating the Ballymena and Antrim runner to the line-up.

Kilkenny City Harrier Cuddihy took her appeal to the OCI last Thursday night and the hearing, at which both of the athletes and Athletics Ireland were represented by separate legal advisors, took almost five hours.

Cuddihy was named in the original selection on 2 July even though her personal best of 54.59 was .18secs slower than Mills' seasonal best at that stage.

Since then, Mills, 19, has gone on to run times of 54.17 and 54.52 at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona where she reached the semi-finals.

"I'm really disappointed with the way the whole thing has been handled, especially by Athletics Ireland, and I hope they learn from it," Mills told the BBC.

"It should just be about times and who is running faster, but other factors are coming in to play.

"If it's meant to be, there will be other Olympic Games for me."

Mills has acknowledged that she will give consideration to switching her international allegiance to Britain following the saga.

"I've got a lot of opportunities through Ireland. A lot of individuals in the set-up have been very good to me.

"I can't in any way ignore that but at the same time, the whole way the high performance management and coaches have dealt with this issue is disheartening and I will have to make a decision.

"But it's not one I'm going to make at the minute - in the middle of all this."

Mills insisted that she would hold "no grudges" towards Cuddihy and "wished the team well" for the Games.

"I hope they enjoy it," added the Northern Ireland athlete.

A statement released by Athletics Ireland on Tuesday morning said they accepted the OCI's decision, but lessons would be learned from the entire process.

Athletics Ireland Chief Executive John Foley added: "We have to acknowledge that the past three weeks have been enormously difficult for the athletes involved in this appeal process, their families, supporters and friends.

"At this point however there is a final decision as to selection and we believe that it is now in the interests of all that we focus our attention on the Games themselves."

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