Wilson concerned about heat for Doha World Champs
Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Maurice Wilson, the man who has led Jamaica's track and field team to several major athletics championships, has expressed concern following the awarding of the 2019 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships to Doha, Qatar.
During a vote yesterday in Monaco at the IAAF General Council meeting, Doha's presentation got the nod ahead of Eugene in the United States and Spain's Barcelona - the first time that the marquee event will be staged in the Middle East.
However, with organisers planning to stage the championships in late September/early October, when temperatures, though still high for most (an average of 27 to 38 Celsius) are expected to be a little more bearable, Wilson is warning that athletes and support personnel will be faced with several challenges.
"It's going to be very difficult because we know that Doha is very hot, and of course, the World Championship is always held in the summer, so I am trying to figure out how we are going to get around the situation with the heat," Wilson told The Gleaner yesterday.
"It's not like we are going to be competing in an indoor facility where you can manage the temperature, it's going to be very difficult for the athletes, and climatic conditions will always be a major concern.
"We are not only thinking about persons from the Caribbean or Africa who would be more exposed to that kind of weather at some point, but we have to consider the other participants from other regions," noted the former Holmwood Technical coach.
Wilson, who most recently served as head coach for Jamaica's teams to the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2011 IAAF World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games, as well as technical leader for the 2013 IAAF World Championships, believes that the late season schedule will also pose serious challenges.
"Most of them (athletes) are professionals, so the adjustments can always be made to their respective training programmes, but after a while, the body gets used to a particular system and every meet in late September will be a challenge," said Wilson.
"The track and field season for professional athletes begin some time in May, and you are talking about four months afterwards and also considering the Diamond League commitments. So September will also be a tough time, but my main concern is the temperature," he added.
Given the circumstances, Wilson pointed out that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), coaches and other stakeholders will have to ensure that athletes are properly informed about the steps needed to prevent injuries and health issues.
"The JAAA can advise, but they cannot manage. When the time comes, they will have to sensitise the athletes in relation to the amount of meets that they are going to participate in that season and suggest maybe (that) they adjust their programmes," said Wilson.
"Also, the general thing about hydration may sound trivial, but as coaches, managers and administrators, one of the main responsibility will have to be to reinforce points that are important to the success of the team and the athletes' health," he added.
In yesterday's voting, Doha won the first round with 12 votes to Eugene's nine and Barcelona's six. In the final round, Doha claimed 15 votes to Eugene's 12.
"I am sure that in Doha we will have a wonderful edition of the World Championships. I am convinced they are committed through sport to developing their country and their community, and they are doing the right things," said outgoing IAAF president Lamine Diack.
"We have dreamed about organising such an event for a long time, and on behalf of the Qatari athletics family, we would like to thank the IAAF Council and IAAF family for giving Qatar the chance to host one of the most prestigious championships," said Dahlan Al Hamad, Qatari Athletics Federation President and IAAF Council member.
The 2015 edition will be hosted by Beijing from August 22-30, followed in 2017 by London from August 5-13 that year.