Top coaches slam JAAA
Led by leaders of the two biggest track clubs in Jamaica, local coaches have requested a meeting with the hierarchy of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) to discuss what they have described as the poor organisation and running of the 2018 JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior and Junior Championships.
The meet has been marred by protests over false starts and the poor scheduling of events, Glen Mills, who heads the Racers Track Club, told The Sunday Gleaner. And, for this reason, he welcomes the call by Stephen Francis, who heads the MVP Track Club, for local coaches to meet with the JAAA to discuss the running of the meet.
"The JAAA has allowed the standard of the national championships to drop way below what is accepted, and we now have a championships that is poorly run, and it is unfair to professional athletes or any athlete at all," Mills said. "This is their profession, and a lot of them depend on their performances at the national championships to get into meets overseas. It is time for a stance to be taken so that a better product is presented."
According to the veteran coach, who guided Usain Bolt to four world-record performances, athletes were left waiting for a lengthy period before the start of the men's 100m semi-final on Friday evening during an opening ceremony for the meet.
"Four days of competition and they could not find a suitable time to have the opening ceremony? Instead, the athletes were brought out to the start before the 100m semi-finals, and the opening ceremony took place while the athletes were out there at the start," Mills lamented. "When an athlete warms up, it is done according to the schedule of the event, and that has to be respected."
One of the athletes who was affected by the long wait was Julian Forte, who pulled up with an injury, according to his coach, Paul Francis.
"I have a sprinter (Forte) who, after being outside in the arena for an hour and a half without being able to compete, went back to the marshalling area. It was almost like he sensed that something was going to happen," Francis said.
Francis said that the drama before the start of semi-final of one of the men's 100m could have been avoided if the officials had shown more strength and consistency in their calls, and his counterpart Mills, agrees.
POOR START EXECUTIONS
"We have been plagued with poor start executions over the last three years, and nothing is being done to correct the problem. If you have faulty equipment, then you need to get proper equipment. But this arbitrary decision has brought a lack of confidence in the starting process," Mills explained.
Yohan Blake, the 2011 World 100m champion, was disqualified from the race after running under protest. Oshane Bailey was kicked out of the race for a false start but delayed leaving the track as he strongly disagreed with the officials' call.
Francis confirmed that his brother, Stephen, had called for the meeting. "I have heard Mr Francis has appealed for the coaches to come together and demand better because without the athletes, there really wouldn't be any championships. It is rather disgusting when an event is scheduled for 'X' time and then when you consult with the call-room, the time they say they have you running is one hour later," Francis said.
President of the JAAA Warren Blake told The Sunday Gleaner that he had not received a request for a meeting and that he wished not to make any further comment on the matter.