Athletics: Holmes faces Melbourne ultimatum

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The Independent Online

The England side, apart from the multi-event disciplines, marathon and walks, will be chosen on Monday and the selectors are determined to consider only those wishing to make the trip to Melbourne next March.

"We already know Jon Brown isn't seeking a place," Chris Carter, the chairman of selectors, said of the two-times Olympic Games marathon fourth-placer. "And I know there are others who don't want to go."

Ahead of the selection meeting, Carter said Holmes, who is still carrying a serious Achilles injury, will be asked if she is definitely intending to defend her 1,500 metres title at the Commonwealth Games.

The double Olympic gold medallist recently intimated that if ongoing treatment does not heal the injury quickly, she might even end her career in the next few weeks. Due to her fitness problems, she has failed to reproduce the form which saw her win both the 800m and 1,500m gold medals in Athens last year.

Holmes has met Commonwealth guidelines by achieving the 1,500m qualifying time where she ranks behind Helen Clitheroe, the Games bronze medallist three years ago, and who was pre-selected after winning June's trial race.

Carter admitted: "We'd be damned if we didn't pick her, but we would be equally damned if we did and she decided later to withdraw.

"Hopefully that won't happen," said the former British international 800m runner, who admits, given Holmes' setbacks, she will not be an automatic selection for her fourth successive Games appearance.

"It is a difficult thing to call. If she is chosen and then decides to pull out in January that would make it difficult for a replacement to be named. Their winter schedule will have been targeted towards next summer's European Championships.

"The problem would be that the new athlete would also have only a few weeks to get herself prepared for the Games.

"Our guideline is firstly to pick potential medallists and those who can make the finals and that is what we shall do."

However, this is complicated by the size of the team being in the hands of the Commonwealth Games Council for England.

"Secondly we've already chosen over 20 from the [AAA] Championships," Carter continued, "but I cannot tell you what the finite number or the finances decided by the Sports Council will be."

Carter stressed he hoped the development of a side capable of winning medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games will begin in Melbourne. "I would really like to see some youngsters in the team and be the sport's future by bringing them on over the next seven years and getting ready for London."