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Dumped rower has mental illness: report
By Mat Mackay & AAP
07:00 AEST Thu May 31 2012
Should Pippa Savage have been dumped from the Australian rowing squad?

Dumped Olympic rower Pippa Savage has bipolar, a mental illness that can trigger extreme moods, it has been reported.

Savage was axed from the Australian squad for what rowing chiefs described as 'incompatibility issues' and sent home from a European training camp this week.

While she has since been in hiding, it has emerged that a flare-up within her quad sculls crew was the final straw and that the 31-year-old may be suffering a mental illness.

The Australian claims Savage has been treated for bipolar disorder.

"I was not privy or aware of any mental-illness issue with Pippa Savage. This is the first I've heard of it and it certainly wasn't disclosed to me," Rowing Australia national high-performance director Andrew Matheson told The Australian yesterday.

"She had been given a complete psych assessment and was passed fit and well to participate in team activity . . . I believe we took every precaution to ensure Pippa Savage was well looked after at every step of the process that ultimately led to the selectors' decision to drop her from the team.

"As selectors, our concern was for the wellbeing of a performance-based team as a whole in preparing for an Olympic Games competition and sometimes things just don't work out."

Savage is fighting her shock dumping and will have her case heard by an independent RA tribunal early next week.

She also has the power to take the matter before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Victorian-based, Toowoomba product is one of Australia's most talented scullers but she's had problems in the past gelling with crewmates in team boats.

Savage walked out on an Adelaide training camp in 2007 after a personality clash with then double sculls partner Hore, and then refused to row in a team boat at the Beijing Olympics.

She qualified for the single sculls in 2008 in an all-or-nothing approach, and unashamedly explained at the time she performed better on her own.

"There's an unwritten rule that you have to do your time in the crew boats," the former Brisbane barmaid told AAP during 2008 Olympic trials.

"(But) I've always been an individually-minded person, my family always says that, and I've always had a passion for the singles."

While eyebrows were raised when Savage and Hore were selected together in the same boat two months ago, RA team manager Ray Ebert denied the latest problem was due to a feud between the pair.

"Her (Savage's) behaviour and emotions were affecting the whole harmony and compatibility of the whole crew," Ebert told AAP.

"The team is disappointed but moving on, high-performance sport requires hard decisions."

RA officials initially said Savage was rested from the Lucerne World Cup due to a niggling injury, before coming clean late Tuesday night.

Ironically, Savage could still be required for duty in London as a cloud remains over the double sculls boat following a rib injury to Brooke Pratley.

With Pratley sidelined for the past month, national champion Kim Crow qualified the single sculls boat last week and then followed up her success with an impressive silver at the World Cup regatta.

Pratley is now back training in the double with Crow in Varese, Italy but she must perform well at World Cup 3 in Munich from June 15-17 to ensure the duo stay together for London.

If the selectors decide Crow has a better chance of gold in the single sculls then Savage would be the only potential doubles partner left for Pratley as other sculling contenders are assigned to other boats.

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