Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Awaiting your reply, Mr President

Published:Tuesday | June 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster
JAAA boss Dr Warren Blake

Foster's Fairplay sends an open letter this week to the president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, who is from a long and distinguished line of Kingston College graduates who have held the top post in the local governing body of track and field.

Dear Dr Blake;

Like most, if not all, from the southern side of North Street (got it right this time, thanks to all you Fortis and Ad Majorem friends), colour purple flows freely in your veins.

With the passion for and commitment to the sport, we remember the old saying, "From whom much is given, even more is expected." If the words are juggled a bit, the theme remains unchanged. Simply, it says, Sir, "Ye who talks the talk must walk the walk."

Kingston College, by tradition, brands the country's most successful sport. Their early '60's to mid '70's winning streak at Boys' Champs illustrates the point. One tackles their tradition of excellence at his or her own peril.

That said, Dr Blake, how much are you as an outstanding orthopaedic surgeon and your executive "walking that walk?" Does time away from the operating theatre and your volunteer supporting cast allow the freedom to do what the sport needs for survival and the athletes' demand to feel respected by their country? It is those who don the competition gear after months in the cauldron of gym workouts and suffer those 8x200m reps in 30 seconds with one-minute recovery time who need your joint consideration, which at times seems so difficult to obtain.

The recent Diamond League 100m win at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, crafted in a world-leading 10.81 seconds by our sprint goddess, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, came with tumultuous shouts of joy. "She is back!" was a bit unkind as she had gone nowhere, simply preparing for this and beyond, in Beijing.

Nevertheless, Sir, it spoke in stentorian terms. "This is our girl in whom we are well pleased."

Merlene Ottey, in her time, was as in command as the chemists of the world would have allowed her. VCB is giving continuing serene service, her talents steered to supreme success as only astute and assiduously working, efficient handling agents can. However, Sir, in the view of this columnist, the lady from Varma Lands in Waterhouse is as Tarrus Riley sang, simply "Royal."

So Mr President, seriously now, is this how your group of custodians of the nation's flagship sport treat royalty?

Shelly is being made to wait indeterminately for a verdict out of alleged competition malfeasance at the World Relays in Nassau more than a month ago.

There was confusion in the selection of the 4x100m relay squads and this spoilt a more than creditable showing all round. Fellow athletes, involved elsewhere, are whispering, blaming this or that competitor or coach. Speculation is rife and distasteful, Sir.

Foster's Fairplay was blessed to have been there, made partially possible by the graces of the world governing body, the IAAF, the classiest hosts imaginable. As all journalists should, this one takes pride in being fearless, ferreting out the truth - a duty to the public, which is very high on a list of ''to do's.''

As such, questions are being asked of your executive, Sir. When will anything be heard other than "We will issue a statement soon," as uttered by your general secretary, a few days ago.

The relay coach, Jermaine Shand, has spoken, so has our lady's personal coach, Stephen Francis; the technical director Maurice Wilson had his input. All of these had roles in Nassau that have brought them under the spotlight.

Through all this, your body, Sir, remains virtually silent. This columnist is watching. Most recent promises of "next week'' are being monitored as the clock ticks. You are the boss, Sir, and the buck is slowing down.

Do not allow it to stop with you.