Butler to go British

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The Independent Online

Canada's leading distance runner Kathy Butler could run for her native Great Britain in next year's Olympic Games.

Canada's leading distance runner Kathy Butler could run for her native Great Britain in next year's Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old has received permission from Athletics Canada to switch allegiance.

Butler, who moved with her family to Canada when she was 10, has also received approval from UK Athletics to make the move.

It means she will be able to compete in the colours of the country of her birth in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Butler's switch of allegiance would bear no comparison to that of Zola Budd who was enticed from South Africa - then banned because of apartheid activities from the Olympic movement - to allow her to contest the 1984 Olympic Games for Britain.

Butler - fourth in this year's World Cross Country short course race and a regular on the international circuit since 1990 - has become disillusioned at the lack of funding for sport in Canada, whereas as a British national she would immediately become eligible for lottery funding.

Athletics Canada chief executive John Thresher said: "She is an outstanding local role model, competitor and great lady. This is a sad day for Canadian athletics."

Brent McFarlane, head coach of Canada's 2000 Olympic team, said: "It's a dark day for Canadians when we lose such an outstanding young lady and athlete to another country because we do not have the government financial support to adequately service Kathy's basic living, competitive and training needs.

"We should all be asking ourselves and local politicians why this has happened."

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