London 2017 | We must protect Jamaican athletics, says Wilson
Head coach of Jamaica's team to the IAAF World Championships in London, Maurice Wilson, is urging the country's track and field bosses to take proactive steps to ensure the nation's continued athletics success despite what is likely to be a period of transition.
Wilson is calling for the resumption of regular camps for junior athletes and the provision of specialist support for upcoming talent such as sports psychology, which he believes is vital in the preparation of the next generation of Jamaican athletes.
With medal-winning stars like Usain Bolt and Novlene Williams-Mills competing at their last championships and other stalwarts such as Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown, and Kerron Stewart among those at the back end of their careers, Wilson believes that the country must act decisively to protect its status as an athletics powerhouse.
"We just have to do what we did before 2008. We must. And Adrian Wallace, God rest his soul in peace, and Pat Anderson, they were instrumental in those junior camps, which turned out 95 per cent of our very prominent senior athletes.
"We must get back the junior athletes in a situation where they have the intervention of experienced coaches with their personal coaches in terms of guiding them towards senior track and field," Wilson said.
He added: "It is extremely important. We cannot take it for granted that they will develop because apart from Asafa Powell, who has been extremely prominent outside of those junior camps, my recollection is telling me that 90 per cent of athletes who have served us well came out of those junior camps."
NEED CERTAIN SKILL SETS
Wilson, who heads the athletics programme at G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport and who has served on national teams since the early 2000s, also believes that the less experienced senior athletes can benefit from sports psychology in their preparations for competition at the highest level.
"One of the things that we have to start looking towards is having persons with certain skill sets around us. We have experienced persons like Donald Quarrie around us and other athletes who are more experienced, but there is nothing like having a specialist in the area, for example, a sports psychologist, and I am sure the JAAA will be looking to improve the resources around the athletes as they have been doing.
"So in the future, I think we need to look at having a sports psychologist around us because of the sort of transition that is taking place," Wilson said.