By Anthony Foster, TrackAlerts.Com Writer
Two years ago Jamaica finished atop the medal table at the IAAF World Youth Championships. This time around, the country was nowhere close to the top.
As a matter of fact, most people who I spoke to said they didn’t know where Jamaica was placed, because they stopped searching beyond the 10th placed team….Jamaica actually finished 16th, thanks, in my opinion, to the poor management by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).
By now, most of my readers are maybe accusing me of bias against Jamaica, but I am going to state some reasons why I accuse the JAAA for the poor performance of the World Youth team.
First and foremost, in my opinion, the JAAA has done nothing for the development of Jamaica’s track and field, I stand corrected.
As far as I see it, the JAAA only organized, most times poorly run National trials and pick, most times questionable teams to represent the country.
In defending the poor performance, JAAA President Dr. Warren Blake blamed it on the top athletes who were missing from trials. "The figures depended on what came to the trials. We had a poor turnout at the trials and for some reason the top athletes did not come to the trials. So we ended up with what we ended up with," he told the Jamaica Observer.
I don't agree with the president, and I would ask Mr. President to name the top athletes who were missing from Trials. KC’s pair of Nathaniel Bann, who was out from February, and Jevaughn Matherson, who further hurt himself at Champs in March, were the only top athletes missing from the trials.
Dr. Blake also said: "It proves a challenge every year because every year, we have a fall off after Champs with poor showings; but this year is a little worse than expected,"
"I have been trying to figure out the reasons, but all the reasons we come up with operates every year — schools, exams and so on," added Dr Blake.
Again Mr. President, you and your team are always depending on Champs to provide talent for the nation while doing nothing…And because of that, the JAAA sit and do nothing to develop the sport of track and field.
Let me say this, or better yet, here is my advice the JAAA, call former president Pat Anderson and ask him, or better yet Alfred Francis may just be a walk away, ask any of them how taking care of our junior athletes is done.
I remember Jamaica’s best years were under the presidency of Pat Anderson and junior coordinator Francis between 2000 and 2004.
Then, the JAAA showed they cared for the Juniors, the future of the country’s track and field, by staging camps every weekend.
Usain Bolt, along with many others, became a star with the benefit of those camps. These athletes used to be housed and train at GC Foster College where they would arrive on Friday evenings after school and depart Sundays after time trials and lunch. Coaches from all over used to be brought in to contribute to the camps.
Cali, the city for World Youth, was high altitude and Jamaica team got in less than 36 hours before competition, while USA were there ?one week prior.
Garth Gayle the JAAA secretary told TVJ news that funding is preventing them from doing more.
But before I give my solution to that funding issue, I will ask, how come Pat Anderson and his team used to do it then when Jamaica never used to dominate Olympics and World Championships like they are doing now?
It was long after, before we started to win eight and more medals at major championships, way before we had the world’s fastest men and women…way before we had any notable world record holders….foolishness, the JAAA needs to do more.
Now, my solution to the lack of funding, instead of taking 30 and more athletes to these major meets, when more than half of them have no chance in the world to medal or even make the final, just take the potential finalist and use the money to prepare them the right way…And I say this, because none of those who we all know cannot make finals, never become world beaters or even medal winners in the future.
Those who maybe qualify with times and distances well below world standard will also benefit from the development.
I remembered a few years ago, junior trials was about four to six weeks before junior Pam Am in Florida, and about six athletes who traveled could not compete because of injuries. Why this happened was because the JAAA did not take control of the team until two days before departure, as these athletes were left on their own, some with their high school coaches, most of whom showed very little interest after Champs.
Michael Dyke, who was head coach of the World Youth team, called on the JAAA to do more. He said he would want to see a JAAA play a more active role after Champs with the Juniors.
I agree with Dyke and only hope his recommendation will be put in place. When last have the JAAA had a coaches’ course, when last have they had a coaches’ seminar or workshop?…the only benefit for coaches as I see it, is to travel with a team.
In closing, please JAAA, take the lead role and stop depending on Champs to develop talents, next year is a World Junior year and we are going to get beating left right and centre, if you don't play a serious role.
Christopher Taylor won our only medal, Gold in the 400m at World Youths, and come next year World Juniors, if interest is not shown by the JAAA, he maybe finds himself without a medal.
Even our seniors are crying because of the lack of support, one even suggested many more athletes will be leaving to represent other countries, and I can’t blame them.
JAAA get it right or leave.
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