Aussie medallist quits Olympic team at last minute

2 months ago 18
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Rio 2016 athletics medallist Dane Bird-Smith has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics due to family medical reasons.

Bird-Smith, who won bronze in the 20km race walk at the last Games, joined the Australian athletics team at their Cairns base but decided that he would not travel to Tokyo. He confirmed the decision on Sunday afternoon.

The 29-year-old said that he was primed for another crack at the Olympics but had to remain with his family, without offering specifics.

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Dane Bird-Smith (Getty)

"Unfortunately, there have been twists and turns over the last year that all Olympians have had to face. For me that includes family health challenges that have become a priority," Bird-Smith said in an AOC statement.

"Couple these challenges with difficult travel restrictions around the COVID pandemic, I have made the decision to stay in Australia with my family and withdraw myself from the Australian Olympic team for Tokyo.

"This is a tough decision as an athlete, but it is a decision that will see my desire to compete and win for Australia strongly continue next year and onwards. I will be watching on from home, cheering with my family and wish the rest of the Australian team all the very best."

Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman backed Bird-Smith's decision.

"We're disappointed for Dane, but he has made the right decision. These are difficult circumstances for him and we wish Dane and his family all the very best. We would also request his privacy be respected," Chesterman said.

The Aussie athletics team numbers 25 after Bird-Smith's exit and left Cairns for Tokyo on Sunday night.

It is a talented group that will be in the mix for a number of medals once the Olympics athletics program begins.

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