London 2012: Knowing national anthem important, says Hunt

Team GB chief Andy Hunt would like athletes to know the words of the British national anthem at London Olympics

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The Olympic Park is now 90 per cent compete Photo: Locog/Getty Images

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Team GB chief Andy Hunt would like every member of Great Britain’s 550-strong Olympic team to know the words to the national anthem before London 2012.

American-born British hurdler Tiffany Porter, a silver medallist at this weekend’s World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, was asked to say the words of ‘God Save The Queen’ by a journalist but did not, further fuelling the ‘Plastic Brits’ row that has blown up around several team members.

“I would expect that of all of the athletes who are finally selected for Team GB,” said Hunt, when asked about the importance of knowing the national anthem.

“I’m sure they’ll all want to know the words. I don’t think it is absolutely critical but it is still important and the nation will expect to see it.”

But Hunt defended the number of athletes likely to be selected whose British links appear tenuous, such as NBA basketball players Byron Mullens and Ben Gordon and several Ukrainian and Bulgarian born wrestlers, who it is claimed are denying home-grown talent the chance to compete at the Games.

And that’s before you get onto the athletics team, which also features Shara Proctor, a long jumper from Anguilla, Shana Cox, a New Yorker with British-born parents and Yamile Aldama, a triple jumper born in Cuba, who also represented Sudan but married a Scotsman and moved to the UK more than ten years ago.

“We are probably one of the most stringent nations there is in respect of managing this change of nationality and if someone is a dual national or have been through the full nationalisation process, then why shouldn’t they be eligible to compete for this country?” added Hunt.

“We are an incredibly diverse nation and we’ve seen out in Istanbul some great performances from some of those athletes who are dual nationals.

“I think the British public will celebrate their achievements as British citizens as much as they will celebrate anyone else with a British passport.”

Last week it was revealed that Ukraine-born wrestlers Yana Stadnik, a European silver medallist recently married to British team member Leon Rattigan, and Olga Butkevych will not be granted UK passports in time for the Games because they do not fulfil the Government’s set criteria.

British Wrestling had expressed a desire expedite their applications but Hunt, the chief executive of the British Olympic Association, refuses to make special pleas to the Home Office.

“The one thing that is very important is that the British Olympic Association does not support accelerating the process,” he said.

“We are absolutely clear that we do not do that. It has to be a standard process.”

© Sportsbeat 2012

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