Kyrgios quits Rio Games as Olympic feud intensifies
Melbourne, June 3 (IANS) Tennis Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) are at loggerheads over the treatment accorded to star tennis player Nick Kyrgios, after the World No.19 on Friday announced his shock withdrawal from the Rio Olympics.
In a statement, Kyrgios, 21, said he was “extremely disappointed” to withdraw from contention, but the negative attitude of the AOC was the key factor in the decision, reports Xinhua.
In a further twist, Tennis Australia has chosen to throw its full support behind Kyrgios and not the AOC, with president Steve Healy saying he was “very disappointed” that Kyrgios felt compelled to pull out.
“We understand Nick’s decision and totally support him but we are very disappointed that he has been put in this position,” Healy said on Friday.
“Nick is a passionate competitor and he’s working hard to learn and mature in a highly pressurised environment where he is under constant public scrutiny.”
“As we’ve said recently Nick’s performances this year have improved. His growing maturity is reflected in his on court performance.”
Kyrgios said he felt unwanted in the Olympic team after the lengthy war-of-words with chef de mission Kitty Chiller, and said the decision to give up his chance at a gold medal was a “difficult” one.
“Playing in the Olympics was a goal this year; I planned my tournament schedule around Rio and made sure to fulfil my Olympic eligibility,” Kyrgios’ statement read.
“Unfortunately, while I have expressed every intention of trying to win a medal for my country in Rio, it’s very clear to me that the Australian Olympic Committee has other plans.”
“Coming to this decision has been a lengthy and difficult process, and I am extremely disappointed to have been put in this unfortunate position.”
Last month, Kyrgios was publicly named and shamed by Chiller, who said Kyrgios’ and fellow tennis player Bernard Tomic’s behaviour had in recent months been “appalling”.
“There are a few athletes that are on watch and (Kyrgios and Tomic) are among them. Every athlete is under the microscope now,” Chiller said last month.
Kyrgios added that, while Tennis Australia had been supportive of his quest for an Olympics berth over the last few weeks, the negativity coming out of the AOC and Kitty Chiller gave Kyrgios no other option but to pull out of contention.
Kyrgios is the latest in a long line of Aussie athletes to pull out of the Games, after golfers Adam Scott and Mark Leishman, and tennis player Bernard Tomic all pulled out of the Games in recent months.
The 2016 Rio Olympics begin in August.