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Saturday, July 29, 2000

Solmundson standing her ground

 Here's proof Olympic selection controversy can haunt even the most agreeable folk.

 Winnipeg's badminton star Kara Solmundson spent this past year scrambling around the world trying to accumulate enough points to earn a berth in the Sydney Games.

 To make her dreams come true, the exhausted 26-year-old competed in 20 countries and on every continent except Africa.

 In the end, she made the grade in both mixed doubles (with partner and Calgary roommate Mike Beres) and singles, assuring herself a trip to her first Olympics.

 But the smelly stuff hit the fan when Charmaine Reid of Fort Erie, Ont., and 40-year-old Quebecer Denyse Juilan were denied spots on the Canadian Olympic badminton team because, unlike Solmundson, they failed to meet the Canadian Olympic Association's standard.

 COUNTERED

 So Badminton Canada countered that Solmundson should give up her singles spot because it would allow another Canadian player to go to the Games.

 The Winnipegger was taken aback by the request and refused to give up her spot.

 "If Mike (doubles partner Beres) got hurt, then I wouldn't be able to compete at all," said Solmundson. "I think this whole thing is very unfortunate.

 "I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I'm a very non-controversial person."

 The COA, which defended Solmundson's decision, and Badminton Canada are at odds over the issue.

 Solmundson calls the ordeal "disruptive to her Games preparation" and wonders why she became a target.

 "We have rules and standards, this has nothing to do with athletes," she said. "There's a proper process for selection in place.

 "As an athlete, all I can do is put this behind me and concentrate on doing the best I can."