The Wright View | Medal expectations severely minimised
The national athletics championships (or Olympic trials) have come and gone, with the nation's medal expectations at the Rio Olympics being severely minimised by reports of injuries and no-shows in the finals of some of our expected medal events over the weekend.
The exact reason for Usain Bolt's no-show in the finals of the men's 100-metre on Friday night was known to international audiences long before our local reporters relayed his message to a concerned nation.
Once the nature of his injury was confirmed, knowledgeable sources knew that he would be en route to Europe for assessment and treatment to ensure his return to full fitness before the start of the Olympics in August.
His no-show for the preliminaries of the 200 metres, another event where he is the defending Olympic champion, seemed to create confusion in the mind of a Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) 'big wig', who, according to an interview published online by another daily newspaper, did not know of the time lines of international rankings before speculating that the great man himself could be overlooked for selection as one of the runners in the men's 200 metres race at the Rio Olympics.
Once Bolt recovers his fitness, he will be entered in both the 100m and the 200m at the Olympics.
It is high time that the high command at the JAAA understand their role and place individuals with an intimate knowledge of rules, regulations, and the nuances of competition in positions that can have a disastrous effect on our athletes and our place as the sprint capital of the world.
The great man himself has openly questioned the reason behind his early call-up - to a preliminary 100m race - that resulted in a half-hour delay and its concomitant potential for injury to any athlete running at sub-10 speed.
PLACED ON CAUTION
The modus operandi of the JAAA suggests that his question will not be addressed in any way.
Then there is the apparent bungling of the false-start rule on not one, but at least two occasions in the preliminaries of the men's 100m. Attendees and television viewers clearly saw the athlete in lane one and possibly the athlete in lane eight moving early, triggering a recall of the athletes.
The stadium announcer quickly identified one athlete, Nickel Ashmeade, as the likely culprit. This announcement is in blatant violation of all the accepted protocols around a false-start. Then, after a seemingly lengthy consultation of at least six officials (how come so many?), the named athlete was shown the red card.
This sparked protests not only from the athlete and his fellow contenders on the starting grid, but also from a man who appeared to be a spectator.
Upon further review and hurried consultations, with very loud murmurs rising from the grandstand (that has surprising easy access to the track), the now mandatory "oops!" was signalled and the entire field was then placed on caution.
The following night, in the men's 200m, the same athlete who was involved in the controversy of the previous night seemed to have left his starting blocks before any of the other runners in the race.
He sheepishly pointed to his blocks while officials huddled again. Whisper, whisper, and 'voil‡', no action and (as yet) no explanation to a concerned public as to what really happened.
Was it due to a problem with the starting blocks, which, interestingly, were not adjusted before the restart, or was there another reason?
Who are these people (officials)?
Is "oops!" now an acceptable explanation?
Two local journalists had requested, prior to the `Championships, a kind of benevolent look at the false-start rule, which does indicate if any of our medal prospects transgressed the international rule. Is this what occurred?
Will we ever get an answer?
I will not hold my breath.