Letter of the day: JAAA must unite athletics forces
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Twelve medals, with more than half of them gold, was the final count for Team Jamaica following the conclusion of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing. Our men and women, even those who came away without medals, performed well throughout and filled the whole nation with immense pride.
However, despite this success, I can't help the feeling that the foundation on which the success has been built is still very tenuous, and more care is needed in order to continue to #Jaminate at these international meets.
At the root of this, I believe, is the development and maintenance of more formal connections and collaborations between all the stakeholders involved in track and field through the sport's governing body, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). The need for this is simple, as the JAAA needs to be able to count on the input of coaches, athletes, the Government, track clubs, schools at all levels, supplementary staff (such as strength coaches, sports psychologists, athletic trainers, etc) and other involved parties.
All of these parties contribute to the Jamaican athletics structure, and it is imperative that the expertise of each group is utilised to its maximum capacity in order to ensure that decisions are made based on best practice.
CRACKS IN STRUCTURE
The obvious poor form of the majority of our young athletes at the World Youth Championships saw the young Jamaican team return with a grand total of one medal, the gold won by the brilliant Christopher Taylor in the boys' 400m. This, after a haul of eight medals (six gold) just two years ago and a history of much higher returns going back over a decade.
Despite the plethora of young talent that was on display at this year's Boys and Girls' Champs, many of our young athletes were, at the time of asking, clearly not prepared properly to take part in the National Junior Championships and the games themselves, in the form that would have allowed Team Jamaica to maintain this previous success.
What this highlighted - and it was addressed by the head coach of the team as they returned from the IAAF meet - is the lack of collaboration between the governing JAAA and the various school coaches, regarding preparation for these summer tournaments. While this does not seem to be a recurring theme, steps must be taken quickly to strengthen these connections, and the establishment of a clearly defined athlete development plan may serve as a solution to the problem.
Let us not cause the euphoria of the most recent triumphs to allow us to gloss over the systemic deficiencies, but instead take action to make improvements. There is still much work to be done.