No ‘Small’ feat! - Outgoing ISSA president discusses Champs starter concerns, legacy
Departing ISSA president Dr Walton Small says that the issues surrounding the electronic starting system implemented at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) last week should not be seen as a negative but instead as something to learn from.
Many coaches, their athletes, and other track and field enthusiasts complained about what they described as inconsistent officiating related to athletes being judged to have false-started in various races, with some being ejected while others were shown warning or green cards and allowed to compete.However, Small said that the equipment will continue to allow all involved at Champs to experience the meet under international conditions.
“ISSA is always looking to make the meet better, and if we are going to make the meet better, we must employ modern equipment,” Small told The Gleaner. “We believe that the championships is at a stage where our student athletes must get a chance to feel what it’s like when you compete on the international stage. We must get a chance to introduce them to the new starting equipment. The JAAA (Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association) really trained these individuals, but they didn’t get enough meets to get to practise. Even if they did, Champs is a different animal, and it takes more out of you. It’s a learning process, and we spoke about it the day before, and you would have seen a tremendous improvement (on Saturday). Next year, I promise it will not be like that; it will be running smoothly.”
Small said the international standard which Champs looks to uphold is one of the legacies he is leaving behind that he is proud of.
“Champs has evolved tremendously, and it’s now being shown all over the world,” he said. “I think that the organisation, execution and presentation of Champs was absolutely fantastic. So I want to commend the chairman and the organising committee for an excellent job. As it relates to the students and their competition, I think that more and more, we’re going to see the other schools emerging, and in the next five to six years, you’ll see the competition getting closer,” he said.
Small recalled the installation of bigger monitors, allowing for what he described as “comfortable viewing” from Stadium East of the events in the National Stadium. He said that is also one of the things he is proud to have done for Champs.
“The other thing I’m happy about is [solving] this matter of schools being locked out because of late entry,” he said. “There’s hardly any story about that anymore. Why? Because we have invested in an electronic system where a school can stay where they are and press ‘send’ instead of having to drive all over Jamaica to submit their entries. That’s a thing of the past.”
Small said that his fondest moment of the championships took place nine years ago when Wolmer’s Boys’ School lifted the Mortimer Geddes trophy.
“I’m going to be very biased right now,” he laughed. “Its something that stands out in my mind, and I take it with me. [My fondest memory] is in 2010, when Wolmer’s won the championship. The co-captains running together to the finish line. Absolutely, I will always remember this. Just to see that joy and excitement on the faces of those young men. Just coming across the line together, that’s my favourite moment.”
Small, who leaves his role as principal at Wolmer’s this summer to enter representational politics, has served as ISSA president since 2007.