A HOUNSLOW swimmer has become the latest victim of the 'plastic Brits' row which has tainted Team GB's run up to the London Olympics.
The controversy kicked off last week when 100m hurdler Tiffany Porter, born and bred in the United States but claiming a British passport through her mother when it was clear she would not make the US Olympic team, was made Team GB captain.
It was a case far removed from Hounslow's own Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia but came to Feltham Community College as a schoolboy to escape the civil war in his homeland.
And now a swimmer who attended school just down the road from Farah at Longford has been denied a place at London 2012 by another so-called plastic Brit.
Alex Garnett (pictured), from Bedfont, but now at Loughborough University, was beaten in a 'swim-off' by Zach Hayden, from Virginia in the United States, during last week's British Championships, which doubled up as the Olympic trials.
Among the disappointed observers were Garnett's aunt, Pauline Mills, from Ashford, who believes her nephew was unfairly denied the chance to claim a place in the Team GB squad.
She said: “Alex achieved two personal best times to reach the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle but missed out on a place in the final when he was a victim of the current 'plastic Brit' debate.
“He tied with another swimmer, from the USA but British born, both with times of 22.91 secs in the semi-finals. A 'swim-off' took place, with Alex losing to Zachary Hayden by 0.31 of a second.
“It was felt by most that Zachary should not have been in the final of the GB Championships, having been listed as swimming for USA.
“The debate goes on, but well done Alex. It will just make him all the more determined to succeed next time, and the Commonwealth Games will be the next big one.”
Before going to university, Garnett swam for Staines Swimming Club, and still turn out for them in tournaments when his schedule allows.
However, the 21 year old, who won swimming gold for Hounslow in the 2008 London Youth Games, now gets the specialist training at Loughborough that Staines could not provide.