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Tavares positive despite withdrawals of Ja athletes for World Relays

Published:Wednesday | April 29, 2015 | 6:49 PMAndre Lowe
Jamaica’s track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown (right) celebrate after winning gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the women’s 100 metres final at the London Olympic Games. Both are members of Jamaica’s World Relays squad.

Some 22 athletes plus officials are expected to leave this afternoon for Nassau, The Bahamas, for the second instalment of the IAAF World Relays.

Despite a few last-minute withdrawals, team manager Marie Tavares is feeling pretty good heading into the championships, as the team looks to make a statement.

The University of Technology/MVP Track Club block of sprinter Kemarley Brown, the second fastest Jamaican last year; the fast rising Julian Forte; world leader in the 100m Elaine Thompson; Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner Janieve Russell; Jamaica's fastest in the 200m and second fastest in the 400m so far this year, Shericka Jackson; fast-rising sprinter Andrew Fisher, Christania Williams and middle-distance competitors AndrÈ Thomas and Jeromia Riley, have all pulled out of the squad.

Thomas and Riley's withdrawal resulted in the complete scratching of the men's 4x800m team, resulting in Jo-wayne Hibbert and Ricardo Cunningham's names also being taken off the list, significantly reducing what was originally a 44-member outfit.

However, Tavares is not expecting any major shortfall.

With titans Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Novlene Williams-Mills and Warren Weir among the established names expected to make the trip to The Bahamas, Tavares, who also serves as assistant general secretary of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), remains positive that the team can match or better last year's second-place finish in the points table.

"Things are looking fine, we are looking forward to the event and I'm sure the athletes are eager to do well at the World Relays," Tavares told The Gleaner.

"It's unfortunate that we have had several withdrawals, but I think our team is still extremely strong and we are all expecting them to do well regardless.

"I was just told that they (withdrawn athletes) wouldn't be making it. They all went to the Penn Relays and competed there, so perhaps that had something to do with it," added Tavares.

Disappointed by pullouts

"It is disappointing that they won't be making the trip, but we can't avoid it. It is what it is and we will have to make the best of the situation and work with who will be there. We know they won't let us down and it may very well make everyone else work even harder," Tavares added.

Jamaica ended last year's IAAF World Relays in second place with 41 points, 19 less than champions the United States.

"I'm confident that the presence of Usain Bolt and the other senior members of the team will help everyone to rise to the occasion," Tavares said. "Once our athletes give of their best, that's all we can ask for. I can't say that we will definitely go one better and beat the US, but all we ask and hope for is that everyone can give their best.

"I don't think we will be doing any worse than we did last year, that's for sure," Tavares said.