Badminton squabble over Pan Am failure
Dania Bogle, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Badminton Association (JBA) president, Robert Richards and the island's top player, Gareth Henry, have proffered different reasons for the country's showing at the recent Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.
Jamaica failed to medal at the Games in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Four years ago, the team secured four medals in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Henry cited the fact that the national team has had no coach, while the other competitors had stepped up their game significantly, hiring coaches from Indonesia and China for the period leading up to the Games.
"It's just the training - we do the same thing over and over, the same way from four years ago, the level where other people were at and we did the same thing from four years ago and expected to win," Henry told The Gleaner. "I played that level, but in singles, it's up and down and they're training harder. "
He further explained: "It (training) was good enough back then for us to medal. It's not good enough now because everybody is investing in a proper coach."
However, Richards has blamed the team's lack of medals on poor attitude and poor preparation. He added that the six-member team's performance in Mexico came as no surprise, given the general laissez-faire attitude prior to departure.
The team also suffered as one of its top players, Samuel Ricketts, picked up an injury prior to departure and was unable to play at all.
"It had nothing to do with coaches," said Richards. "At this level, you could have coaches from heaven ...with poor preparation and poor attitude (you will not perform). You have to train twice as hard if you're going to Mexico, but nobody did that. Nobody had even a 50 per cent attendance for training," said Richards.
He added that the team should not have even left Jamaica given their attitude.
"Before the team left, I did not get the records of attendance, but after the first set of games, I saw the records. I had not seen it or I would not have sent the team. But truth be told, that's what should have been done. Nobody was ready for the Games."
Henry said that while there was some merit in Richards' claim about players not turning up for training, many times, the players were in Manchester training with another local badminton coach.
"We have complained about the coaching not being sufficient. Sometimes, we skip training, knowing we get a better week down there (Manchester) than up here. A lot of us complain about the training not being sufficient. In Kingston, we come out of training for four hours and we're not tired."
Richards won five medals the last time he competed at the CAC Games in 2002 in El Salvador.
"That's more than what the entire Jamaica contingent won this time. Badminton won four last time. That might have been better, but it's certainly indicative of where we were heading," he said.
The JBA is currently in negotiations to hire a coach from Indonesia.