Fri | Jan 18, 2019

KC weren’t trying to win Champs at all cost - Harrison

Published:Monday | March 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott
Kingston College's head coach of the track and field team, Neil Harrison (right), reasons with Calabar High School's throws coach, Julian Robinson during the 2015 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Neil Harrison, head coach of the track and field team at Kingston College (KC), said injuries to key athletes eliminated their chances of winning the 2015 Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys & Girls' Athletic Championships.

Once again, KC finished runners-up to Calabar, who took their fourth straight hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy.

However, Harrison, the former Munro College coach, was upset by media suggestions that he forced an injured Jhevaughn Matherson to run in an attempt to "win at all costs".

Harrison told The Gleaner injuries are unavoidable occurrences and something every team has to cope with, but believes had Matherson, Nathaniel Bann and Akeem Bloomfield been fully fit, things would have turned out differently.

Matherson won his 100 metres heats earlier on Thursday and faced rival, Tyreke Wilson, in the 200 metres semi-final later that evening. But the KC star pulled up as he was about to turn into the straight, with Wilson well ahead and in control of the race.

Harrison, though, revealed that physically Matherson was okay, but he took the decision to pull him after that race.

"I think saying he (Matherson) came in injured is incorrect. The doctor gave him the okay, so we had no problem running him," Harrison explained.

"What was displayed to the public (200m semis) was not really so, he was not hurt. Physically he wasn't hurt, but emotionally he was. He told me he went for a big one, but didn't find it and he just threw in the towel, so it wasn't anything physical, it was more emotional than anything else," the coach explained.


Gave up


"Matherson has high aspirations,' he continued. "He is a person who doesn't like to lose and he knew he wasn't 100 per cent, but even under that circumstance he believed he still had the ability to win, but when he dug deep and found that it wasn't there he just gave in.

"He's a fine talent and under no circumstances would Kingston College, or myself as the head coach, do anything to harm him. We were just hoping that his best would be good enough, but that was not the case," he said.

Harrison was disturbed by comments made on national television, which gave the impression that the sprinter was not well and that KC were trying to win Champs at all costs.

"What I am disappointed with is that the media, looking from a distance, made comments like, his body language is saying 'See, coach I cannot run'. That wasn't the situation, but I told him that since he gave up, it's better if I pull him and he was disappointed as he wanted to run the 100m to see if he could avenge it; so he was upset that I called his Champs a day."

Harrison continued: "I don't have a problem when spectators make certain comments, because spectators can be arrogant, but I expected the media to be a bit more professional. Watching the television, they (media) were saying that his body language was saying 'See coach', and I have a problem with that, as they (media) had the opportunity to ask questions," he stated.

Kingston College finished with 265 points, 15-and-a-half less than champions Calabar (285.50), which means Kingston College were no more than two events away from victory.

Harrison insisted if they wanted to win at all costs, they would have sacrificed their top athletes who are carrying injuries.

"If I wanted to win Champs at all costs, Akeem Bloomfield would have been in the 200m, but the doctor told me not to run him. The doctor also told me not to run Nathaniel Bann; and if I wanted to win at all costs, Bann would have been in the 400, so they must be careful of what they are saying," he urged.

"I am not the doctor, I am the coach, and I rely on the doctor to give me the go-ahead and when they do I follow suit," he said.