Guy Learmonth fuming over World Indoors snub – AW

    Scottish 800m man says UK Athletics’ decision to leave him out of the team for Glasgow is “nonsense” and “100% personal”

    Guy Learmonth has launched a scathing attack on UK Athletics after being denied the chance to end his indoor athletics career on his home track at next week’s global championships in Glasgow.

    The 31-year-old 800m runner calls the governing body’s decision to leave him out of the squad “absolute nonsense”, “illogical”, “toxic” and “100% personal”.

    After posting the fierce message on Instagram, Learmonth did subsequent interviews with BBC Scotland and the Herald in Glasgow. UK Athletics, however, has a policy of not commenting on selection decisions although its policy is aimed at “optimising medal success and the number of top-eight finishes as the host nation”.

    Contrary to popular belief, however, the governing body did not reject an “invite” from World Athletics. There are no “invites” or “invitations” as such. Instead, there is simply a final list of athletes who are eligible for entry through the world rankings, which member federations can choose to ignore or select.

    Learmonth has shown good form this season with an 800m win in Erfurt, Germany, in early February in 1:46.80. He was eight tenths of a second outside the qualifying mark for the World Indoor Championships, though. Then, at the UK Indoor Championships in Birmingham last weekend he finished a close runner-up to Jack Higgins after the Tonbridge runner pipped him on the line with both men clocking 1:47.91.

    Jack Higgins (left) pips Guy Learmonth (Getty)

    Learmonth was carrying a hamstring injury and had what he called a “stonking cold”. To add insult to injury, UKA later posted a video of his narrow defeat on social media on the same day that five additional athletes were added to the squad.

    Learmonth, a popular figure with fellow athletes and fans, received notable support on social media from Chris O’Hare, the retired Scottish miler, plus current competitors like Alex Bell, Steph Twell, Kirsty Law, Sophie McKinna and Harry Coppell among others.

    Learmonth said: “My dream of finishing of my indoor campaign and my indoor career on not just home soil but my home track has been taken away,” he said, “it’s devastating and it’s heartbreaking and it is completely illogical.”

    He added: “This sport is unbelievably toxic and the only way to save our federation is for someone to raze it to the ground and rebuild from the ashes.

    “It is deep rooted with toxicity and nepotism at the highest level. I’ve dealt with it my entire career and I’ve stayed quiet for years as I focused on myself and my own career but I can’t stay quiet on this anymore. They are crushing athletes dreams, ruining careers and physically, emotionally and financially breaking human beings, not athletes, but humans.”

    Learmonth’s outdoor best is 1:44.73 and he finished sixth in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and 2022 in addition to placing sixth in the European Indoor Championships in 2015 and 2023.

    However, he believes he has been snubbed several times during his career. He says he has been overlooked for Lottery funding several times – in 2014, for instance, after finishing the leading athlete from the home nations in a Commonwealth final in Glasgow won by Nijel Amos from world record-holder David Rudisha.

    Guy Learmonth (Mark Shearman)

    UKA also failed to select him for the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland despite him being eligible for selection.

    It means there will be no home athletes in the men’s 800m for spectators at the Emirates Arena next weekend to cheer. Among those expected in the crowd is Tom McKean, the 1993 world indoor champion.

    “I have represented my country at the highest level for 10-15 years and always performed through the roof on home soil, making finals and being ultra competitive,” Learmonth continued. “I wanted to come away with my first and last world medal next weekend and I earned the right to be there, again and my federation have taken that away from me, again.

    “I thought I was falling out of love for this sport but I’m not, I’m beyond disillusioned and disgusted by the people that run it. I will carry on running, I will carry on pushing towards 143 and beyond, I will be working relentlessly to qualify outright for the Paris Olympics and if I don’t… I’ll die trying.”

    Guy Learmonth speaking to AW after the UK indoor 800m final

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