Disappointed and disrespected ... Fans, organisers hit out after Calabar's Gibson McCook snub
A number of spectators have expressed disappointment at Calabar's last-minute withdrawal from the Gibson McCook Relays, held at the National Stadium yesterday.
On Thursday evening, the manager of Calabar's track team informed the meet organisers that the boys from Red Hills Road would be missing in action at the 42nd staging of the largest relay carnival in the Caribbean after earlier accepting an invitation and registering more than 70 athletes to compete.
"I am here to see Calabar's team because without Calabar, KC (Kingston College) is just going to run away with everything, and we don't like that. I am a Calabar fan, and I am very disappointed. I am here to see them, and they are not here," Debbie Chambers, who has been attending Gibson McCook Relays for over ten years, said.
Another Calabar supporter, Valerie Lindo, who travelled from Trelawny, also expressed disappointment at Calabar's no-show.
"I have been coming to Gibson for over 20 years, and I always look forward to seeing Calabar. I always look forward to the rivalry between them and KC, so I am disappointed," Lindo said.
Another spectator, who preferred not to be named, said: "Is because dem break world record the other day why they feel like dem bigger than Gibson."
Calabar's record-breaking 4x400m team was expected to bring some fireworks at the relay carnival.
The quartet of Anthony Carpenter, Christopher Taylor, Shemar Chambers, and Malik King-James ran the fastest mile relay time ever recorded by a high school team in Jamaica when they stopped the clock at 3:05.04 at the Corporate Area Anthrick Development Championships just over a week ago.
Calabar's head coach, Michael Clarke, told The Gleaner on Friday night that the decision to skip the meet was due to a his athletes needing rest.
"It has been several weeks of intense competition, which has taken a toll on most of our athletes, especially among the senior ones, and we decided that they needed some time to recuperate because the Gibson McCook Relays would have been another intense one for them," Clarke said.
Winston Ulett, one of the meet organisers, said Calabar's withdrawal would be discussed at their usual post-Gibson McCook meeting.
"The chairman and members of the committee will have to decide if there is possibly anything that we can do. They didn't come of their own free will. They entered nearly 80 boys and we were told two nights before by the team's manager that they would not be participating," Ulett said.
"We feel let down and disappointed because last year, Calabar sent a little whimsy team. They only won one relay last year and they went on to win Champs. I personally feel like they have been slighting us. They sent a little team last year. This year, they withdrew at the last moment. I think it is disrespect to us."