Carmen Small’s decision to take USA Cycling to arbitration over her Olympic snub won’t come cheap.
The 2016 National Time Trial Champion from Durango shockingly was not selected for the four-woman road cycling team for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but she has pursued her right to appeal the decision by the USA Cycling selection committee through arbitration.
“This time around, I proved to myself and everyone else, including my competitors, that the spot belongs to me,” Small said Thursday in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “What pushed me over the edge was the outpouring of people who reached out to me not just nationally but internationally. People were telling me this isn’t right. It’s one thing if your small community of friends is saying you should’ve went, but when the whole nation says it, it’s a different story. That helped, and I want to appeal and go through with it.”
Paul McCarthy, one of Small’s friends in Boulder, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help Small raise $25,000 to offset the costs of her legal battle. Small will be represented by lawyer Howard Jacobs.
On the GoFundMe page, McCarthy said Small’s accomplishments warrant an Olympic spot and he agrees her snub was unjust.
“We agree and want to help her,” McCarthy wrote. “Carmen is the current National Time Trial Champion and has a stellar career in cycling to back that up. This has been her goal since she started competing. Please help by donating generously so that we can get Carmen through arbitration and on her way to Rio.”
Small said previous cyclists in the same position have won their arbitration cases, and she believes she has a good chance.
“I think the last three or four arbitrations with (USA Cycling) they have lost,” she said. “Right now, they don’t have a good track record. It states something maybe needs to be changed.”
The 36-year-old Durangoan said she has gone through every emotion in the week since the decision was announced. She never expected to see herself in ESPN stories detailing her decision to fight, especially because she thought she had done everything in her power to earn selection.
“First I was destroyed, then I needed to get my head wrapped around it and ask myself why and was it fair,” she said. “I realized it wasn’t a fair decision.
“I didn’t think I would be in this situation not only because of nationals but the fact I’ve been on an upward trend since 2013 other than a little setback in 2015. It makes me sad they wouldn’t want me to represent them. It was a slap in the face and definitely personal.”
For now, Small is still training as if she were preparing for the Olympics, and she is keeping the dream alive as long as there is a fight to be waged.
“I guess my savings are going to the fight now. They don’t make it a cheap process to appeal,” she said. “You don’t do it for fun, that’s for sure. I wanted to make sure I had a good case before I dove in and spent the money, and I believe I have a winning case.”