Fri | Sep 20, 2019

Laurie Foster | D-Day for Doha decision

Published:Wednesday | September 11, 2019 | 12:19 AM
Williams

With the XVII IAAF World Championships in Doha less than three weeks away, at the time of writing, Jamaica is still not sure of the full complement of athletes who will show off the black, gold and green in the air-conditioned stadium of that Qatari city.

The temperature for that period is expected to be in the region of a sweltering 40 degrees Celsius, making that facility an absolute necessity. By virtue of the selection policy of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the team has virtually picked itself following the results of the June-held trials.

There has been for some time a 1-2-3 across the line policy, which guides the process, so long as the athlete has met the qualifying standard stipulated by the IAAF, the world governing body. That organisation also grants a wild card entry to any athlete who is either the reigning World Champion or the Diamond League title holder, and in these instances, a maximum of four athletes may participate.

Under this scheme, the Jamaican beneficiaries are Omar McLeod, who also holds the Olympic title, and Danielle Williams, who took the Diamond trophy last weekend and was the surprise world champion four years ago, as well as Shanieka Ricketts in the triple jump.

Stellar event

With that sealed, all eyes are looking to the stellar event to put a lid on the sport for 2019.

However, there are doubts which surround the athlete who was third in the women’s 100m at the trials in a national junior record of 10.94 seconds. That guaranteed the 17-year-old Briana Williams the opportunity to contest the event on the big stage. At this time, one is not certain that the young sensation will be selected following an adverse analytical finding at the trials.

Foster’s Fairplay will not discuss her chances of avoiding sanction as the case could be said to be sub judice. However, what is of grave concern is that from reports which have been circulated, this young athlete has found herself in this situation because of what may be deemed a lack of adequate care.

Foster’s Fairplay has noted with a certain degree of gratitude how some of the country’s young athletes are given nurture and due care to take them along the path to stardom. Many of them have support groups which are at times referred to as handlers, and who go to great extent to protect their charges from the perils that can befall the inexperienced youngster.

They mean well and should not be discouraged. However, they are not professionals versed with the intricate knowledge as to what should be done, or most important not be done when what they deem to be a crisis surfaces.

On the day when the 100m final was to be staged, Briana was said to be suffering influenza symptoms. Also reported is that she took some over-the-counter medication to alleviate the situation. There appeared to have been no professional advice sought or given. Had such consultation been made, it was not noted in the reports of the incident. She ran the 100m semi-final and final on that day and the result is well known.

Now there is a problem and her defence team is asking for an early date for the hearing. It has not been reported whether this has been granted. What is known is that she stands the chance of missing the flight to Doha, and who knows where else thereafter?

This unfortunate and unexpected turn of events could get even worse if the ruling goes against her. All Foster’s Fairplay can ask is that the country’s young athletes be guided by professionals during and in all aspects of their preparation. It should not be left to a loving relative to handle a matter such as the one that threatens the loss of Briana from the Doha cause.

The country deserves better oversight of its young athletes than what has been in evidence in this incident.

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