US champion off WC roster over Nike uniform squabble

first_imgMIAMI:As other runners wrap up their preparation for the World Championships in Beijing, Nick Symmonds plans to retreat into nature, seeking solitude after being left off the United States squad in a squabble over Nike uniforms the team must wear.Fishing and climbing rocks are a way for the middle-distance runner to clear his mind and deal with the “frustration and letdown that I’m experiencing right now”, he said.Symmonds, a silver medallist at 800 metres at the last World Championships, refused to sign a contract that USA Track and Field (USTATF) requires of all athletes before they’re placed on the team. When the official roster was named on Monday, Symmonds wasn’t on it despite his win at the US championships in June.For Symmonds, the issue is Nike’s standing as USATF’s official uniform sponsor. Anyone going to Beijing later this month on the US team is required to wear Nike gear at team functions. Symmonds is sponsored by a rival shoe company, Brooks, and wanted a clear definition of what a Team USA function was.”I guess a small part of me thought they weren’t stupid enough to leave me off the team,” Symmonds said. “Apparently, they are.”Emotionally and physically, I’m beat up right now.”Except for the exclusion of Symmonds, there were no surprises on the roster released Monday. There are five defending World champions on the US squad, including Ashton Eaton (decathlon), LaShawn Merritt (400 metres), David Oliver (hurdles), Brittney Reese (long jump), and Brianna Rollins (hurdles).Marquee sprinters such as Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, and Allyson Felix are also on the team.Taking Symmonds’ place in the 800m is Clayton Murphy, who finished fourth at nationals.too much powerThe 31-year-old Symmonds is known for taking stances on social and business issues that surround what he believes is a widely corrupt world of track and field. He said he couldn’t sit idly by on this topic, believing that giving Nike so much power on what athletes can and can’t wear at major events may hinder sponsorship deals down the road.”We have to wear Team USA kit at all official Team USA functions, which is fine. I’m fine with it,” said Symmonds, who plans to eschew training for a bit to fish and rock climb. “The problem is they never define what a Team USA function is. They do that almost on purpose so they can call anything a Team USA function.”USATF makes about $20 million a year in a sponsorship contract with Nike that was recently extended to run through 2040.The federation issued a statement on Monday, saying, “The only restriction USATF places on athletes’ apparel or appearance at any time is when they represent the United States in national team competitions, award ceremonies, official team press conferences, and other official team functions tied to these national team events.”USATF said it invests more than 50 per cent of its revenue directly into athlete support.”We look forward to continuing to expand our programmes for athletes and we hope to see Nick on future national teams,” the statement said.Symmonds was a Nike-sponsored athlete for about seven years before switching to Brooks last year. He did so because “I needed a company that could work with me and match my personality a little bit better”, Symmonds said.He won the 800m at the National Championships in June, finishing in a time of one minute, 44.53 seconds. Symonds decided to skip lucrative competitions in Europe to concentrate on his training in Seattle so he could be in prime shape for Beijing. He felt like he was possibly in even better condition than when he earned silver at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.”We’re not going to get a chance to find out what I can do,” Symmonds said. “That’s a travesty.”Although he has an airline ticket and a visa into China, Symmonds isn’t sure if he will attend as a spectator or watch from home.”I want to apologise to the fans who want to see me run,” Symmonds said. “I just feel that I can’t go out there and put on that Team USA jersey and feel good about it, while all the athletes are being mercilessly bullied and threatened by USATF at the same time.”last_img read more

Retail’s December chill

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – In the days leading up to Christmas, the nation’s retailers worked up a lather to attract last-minute shoppers to salvage what has been a mediocre December. Department-store operator Macy’s Inc. slashed prices, and Toys “R” Us offered price cuts of up to 75 percent. At stake are retailers’ profits for the year and perhaps even the strength of the economy. While consumers jammed stores at the start of the season for big discounts and shopped early for Nintendo Co.’s hard-to-find Wii game console, popular video games like “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” and Australian sheepskin UGG boots, they waited until the end for most everything else, to take advantage of the best deals amid a challenging economy. The biggest disappointment comes from women’s apparel, extending a downturn that’s grown deeper in recent months and serving as an ominous sign for the health of retailing in general. Women do the primary shopping for the family, so analysts say it’s troubling that they are spending less time in the stores. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson“I have no money or time to shop,” said Tina Morabito, who started her holiday shopping Friday morning at a mall in Providence, R.I. She was buying greeting cards and mint chocolates but didn’t plan to buy clothing. “There’s been a malaise” among women’s clothing sales and “it has spread to other areas,” said Dan Hess, chief executive of Merchant Forecast, a New York-based research firm. “The panic button has been pushed, particularly in department stores.” And even with an expected sales surge over the weekend, which traditionally accounts for about 10 percent of holiday sales, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater expected that the last-minute spending would be too little, too late.last_img read more