Sun | Feb 18, 2018

Terrorism fears grip J’can athletes

Published:Saturday | July 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Some Jamaican track and field athletes are calling on meet organisers to beef up security so as to reduce the risk of attacks at meet venues.

The athletes, who all competed at the Herculis Diamond League meeting in Monaco yesterday - hours after a deadly attack in Nice that left more than 80 persons dead, said they would like to see more done to ensure both their safety and that of fans.

"It would be a big hit for our sport if anything like that (terror attack) was to take place at a track and field event, because we rely on crowds, so we certainly don't want that affecting the sport," Jamaica's national long jump champion Damar Forbes told The Gleaner.

The Nice attack, which saw what was believed to be a lone driver of a truck open fire on a crowd and then fatally mow down people celebrating Bastille Day, the French national holiday, was the third such mass-casualty terrorist atrocity in France in the space of 19 months.

It is with this in mind that World Indoors 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod is asking for more to done in terms of security.

"Some countries provide security. Like when I went to Dubai, we had security escort. But that's the only Diamond League meet I went that they did that," McLeod said. "Nobody else does it, and I think the organisers should do better where security is concerned, especially in European countries, where something can always happen like what happened (in Nice), so there is the need for extra precautions."


Jamaica's five-time women's triple jump champion Kimberly Williams said she was in her room enjoying the fireworks on Thursday night not knowing that such tragedy would unfold.

"We had the door open, so we could hear the fireworks from down here, and it reminded me of the fourth of July," Williams said. "So I was picturing happy people celebrating, only to hear that a truck ran over a large number of persons."

Williams said while security measures differ at the various meets, she is "definitely concerned" about her safety when she travels to compete.

But Jamaica's sprint queen Veronica Campbell-Brown, who has been performing on the biggest stages across the world for more than a decade, said athletes just have to "go by faith and not by sight".

"The way the world is going now, the best thing we can do is pray and be positive," Campbell-Brown said. "Whenever I am going to compete, I just ask God for journeying mercy and hope that whoever is in charge will implement the right security measures so that everybody can be safe."

Campbell-Brown also expressed condolences to the family members of all those killed in the Nice tragedy.