The decision last week not to give Emma Pallant-Browne a wildcard for the upcoming Collins Cup has already generated plenty of debate.
Team Europe Captains Normann Stadler and Natascha Badmann chose Nicola Spirig and Holly Lawrence to go alongside the four automatic picks on the female side of their line-up. We won’t revisit that now, but here’s what we said at the time.
But Pallant-Browne’s coach Tim Don has now spoken about the non-selection in his latest ‘Talking Points’ video for us [embedded below], alongside his Halo-ID co-founder Ian Dempsey.
Don told us: “I coach Emma Pallant-Browne, I have for a year and a half now, and I’m gutted she’s not been picked.
“She’s ranked top 10 in the world and is the fifth-ranked European – there are four automatics and then two wildcards, which they are calling Captains’ Picks.
“I would love her to be picked and on performance, yes, she should be there. But if you read how the Captains’ Picks are chosen, the person who has the last say is the commercial department of the PTO.
“I might be wrong there – [if so] I do apologise Sam Renouf [CEO of the PTO] but that’s how I have read it.
“And I’m going to be honest, if you were the commercial department of the PTO, would you pick Emma Pallant-Browne, who has podiumed in most of her races this year and last, or Nicola Spirig, legend of the sport, Olympic gold medallist, Olympic silver medallist, Sub8 athlete?
“[Nicola] does so much for the sport, she works a lot for the Pho3nix Foundation – so who would you pick commercially? I’d pick her on that basis.”
Change of direction?
But Don then stepped back from this specific situation to look at the bigger picture and observed: “I thought the PTO was an athlete-driven organisation but it sounds like now they are a race organiser.
“They organise races so commercially they need to look after their events – so they want the best athletes on paper, not necessarily on form. So maybe there’s a slight change of direction in how the PTO are going.
“I’m sure they would pick a bigger name over someone who has beaten a bigger name – Emma raced Nicola in Mallorca and beat her [in May when they were first and second respectively].”
When asked by Ian Dempsey how Pallant-Browne responded to the decision, Don revealed: “She’s doing okay. She had a couple of days when she was down in the dumps. But Emma is a fighter and she loves racing. We’re still going to Samorin and she’s going to do the ITU race. She wants to go to Dallas [the PTO US Open] and smash it up there later in the year.
“I think it was a sideswipe but she’s accepted it. I wish the PTO the best of luck with the production and with everything going forward.
“And I will definitely be watching because I love watching the best of the best racing.”