Team GB grapples with a big problem: most of its wrestlers are not yet British

Head of sport's governing body picks a fight over our Eastern European recruits for 2012

Judging by the size, speed and athleticism of the men and women hurling themselves around the Excel centre in London yesterday, there may be more choice sporting bodies to get on the wrong side of than the international wrestling federation.

The world of wrestling is an unfamiliar one to most Britons, so much so that the body charged with assembling a home team for next year's Olympic Games has sought reinforcements from eastern Europe. But wrapping British wrestling in a flag-of-convenience has not gone down well with the man who runs the sport globally.

Yesterday Raphael Martinetti, the president of the international wrestling federation, took on the host nation, attacking the decision to fill the British team with naturalised wrestlers. Mr Martinetti said: "I think this is no good for the country."

Mr Martinetti was speaking at the Excel centre in London's docklands at the latest of a series of test events for the 2012 Games. The British team are taking part in this weekend's wrestling invitational and was supposed to be introduced to the media yesterday only for sheepish officials from Locog, the Games' organisers, to announce that there had been a late change of mind.

In their place Colin Nicholson, British wrestling's chief executive, fought a rearguard action on his team's behalf. "Everyone wants them to be doing their best and their best is to stick to their training routines," he said in explanation of their no-show. It was later put down to language problems as well.

Britain's two best female wrestlers, Olga Butkevych and Yana Stadnik, both medal prospects, do not qualify for British passports until early next year and then have to go through the Home Office application process in time to meet the sport's qualification process and then the British Olympic Association's selection criteria.

Mr Martinetti said: "If they don't have a British passport by [May] then we say bye-bye. Mr Nicholson said: "British wrestling remains optimistic about the naturalisation process."

Of the 12 British athletes scheduled to compete this weekend, seven have been born and brought up abroad. A number of them first arrived in this country in 2006 to act as "training" partners for local fighters at the Salford home of British wrestling.

As host nation Britain can enter teams in all Olympic events. The idea of recruiting athletes from other countries is nothing new. The South African Zola Budd ran for Britain in the 1984 Olympics after being handed a passport in a hurry following a newspaper campaign.

From Ukraine with love: meet our team

Krasimir Krastanov

Born in Bulgaria, the 29-year-old moved to Britain in 2006. Finished fifth in the 2009 world championships.

Myroslav Dykun

Born in Ukraine, he won Commonwealth gold for England last year. Competes in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Sasha Madyarchyk

Another Ukrainian and another product of British coach Mykola Kornieiev's policy of looking to his homeland to recruit sparring partners for his local charges. Like others, Madyarchyk has stayed put and won bronze in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Yana Stadnik

The talented Ukrainian qualifies for a British passport in February. Her brother Andriy is set to compete for Ukraine next year, her sister-in-law for Azerbaijan.

Olga Butkevych

Another Ukrainian still to qualify for a British passport. Won a bronze medal at the European championships this year.

... and a couple of Brits

Philip Roberts

One of two British-born athletes on wrestling's world-class performance programme, along with Leon Rattigan, Stadnik's boyfriend.

Olympic rules: how to qualify

The British Olympic Association oversees selection for Team GB with the guidance of the governing bodies from each Olympic sport. All selected athletes must be full British passport holders and not have served any bans for doping. They also have to meet performance criteria that varies from sport to sport. The deadline for sports to have their nominations for selection with the BOA is 1 June, 2012. The wrestling selectors meet on 10 May.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine