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Boardroom decisions to ponder

Published:Tuesday | August 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster, Contributor
Dr Warren Blake

Much has been discussed here and elsewhere about pending action at the XV IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations) World Championships in Athletics.

Track and field is, by far, Jamaica's most successful sport. Its biennial showpiece happens in the Chinese city of Beijing, competition lasting from August 22 to 30.

It marks a highly anticipated revisit to the Bird's Nest Stadium, where Jamaica's sprinters staged a major coup at the Olympics in 2008. In six events, including the sprint relays, five gold medals went to the land of Bob Marley and the Reggae Boyz.

That a season-long, high-riding, twice-convicted drug cheat, Justin Gatlin, is part of the USA's spoil-the-island party only enhances the hype.

One expects, following a telling London Diamond League experience, the big man himself, Usain Bolt, will make it a spectacle that only dreams can envisage.

That excitement aside, there will be boardroom decisions to ponder. From them will surface a separate brand of doubts, drama, and disappointments.

Come August 18-20, the hosts, the IAAF, will be holding their 50th congress. Being an even-numbered staging, elections for official positions in the hierarchy will be held.

It is a contradiction of sorts that Jamaica does not have a single post in the structure of the existing world governing body. Such a distinction could be considered almost automatic, given the nation's international high profile in the sport.

In a determined attempt to correct that, four individuals have been sent forward to 'face the music'.

Dr Warren Blake, not without negative murmurs behind the curtains, holds the top spot in the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). A seasoned politician, he will contest for a place on the IAAF council.

The association's general secretary, Garth Gayle, rumoured to be looking at Blake's chair in next year's local polls, will vie for technical committee membership.

The quartet of hopefuls is completed by JAAA's third vice-president, 1996 Atlanta Olympics 400 metres hurdles gold medallist, Deon Hemmings-McCatty, and road racing organiser, Alan Beckford.

Respectively, they will be hunting women's and cross-country committee status. Beckford, who is not on the executive of the association, was co-opted for the exercise.

Foster's Fairplay quizzed the straight talker, who co-founded and is currently chief organiser for the Jamaica College-hosted Hugo Chambers 10K. There was anxiety as to his thoughts about being sent to the polls, while not an elected member of the JAAA executive.

"Having been involved in road racing for more than 30 years, and cross country as well, I think the executive of the JAAA would have seen my qualities and, knowing that I was integrally involved in many a way, with the growth of distance running in Jamaica ... hence, this is the reason they selected me," he said.

The die is cast, for better or for worse. The country awaits the outcome.