Thu | Jan 21, 2021

It’s looking bright! - Maurice Wilson positive about Jamaica’s track and field future

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s head coach Maurice Wilson speaks to the media at the Norman Manley International Airport on his return from the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar yesterday.
Julian Robinson
IAAF World Championships men’s discus throw silver medallist Dacres
Rushell Clayton, who also arrived yesterday, shows off her bronze medal from the women’s 400m hurdles.
Fedrick Dacres during the men's discus throw final at the Khalifa International Stadium on Day Four of the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar on Monday, September 30. Dacres secured Jamaica's first ever senior global medal in the event when he finished second.

Jamaica IAAF World Championships team head coach Maurice Wilson says that the state of local track and field is strong after the team’s performances in Doha, Qatar. Wilson was speaking to reporters as a contingent of athletes arrived in the island at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday. The country rebounded from its poor showing in 2017 to have a 12-medal haul, one short of its record 13-medal performance in 2009 in Berlin. Among the arrivals were women’s 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rushell Clayton and men’s discus throw silver medallist Fedrick Dacres.

Wilson was pleased with the achievements of the team, especially in breaking new ground, with four of the eight individual medals Jamaica collected coming from the field, the most in the island’s history.

“Everybody is elated,” he said. “It was a difficult task. The conditions were not conducive at first, but the team performed well all round. We have now become a global power not just in track but in track and field, and we are extremely happy for this. We would have seen the work of the various organisations – the GC Foster College, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the Jamaica Olympic Association in building the foundation of track and field. Track and field can never die in this country. It may go through a transitional phase, but it can never die.”

There were certainly fears post-Usain Bolt’s retirement that Jamaica’s dominance in the sport would be subjected to a long period of hibernation following the 2017 campaign, in which the country only managed to leave London with four medals, its lowest total since 1987. But those have been sedated with the impressive performances of Dacres, men’s long jump World champion Tajay Gayle, women’s shot put silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd, and women’s triple jump silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts.

Their 12-medal tally, however, could have been less, had it not been for the protest launched for the women’s 4x400m relay team that came third in the final on Sunday. Wilson says that despite speculation surrounding what happened regarding the appeal, the team was on top of situation.

“I think sometimes there is some disconnect because the technical leader is always at the Technical Information Centre. So persons who will not know that will not understand this aspect of the organisation,” Wilson said. “It was not a problem. [JAAA president] Dr [Warren] Blake and the treasurer, Ludlow Watts, were the first persons there along with Dr Paula [Dawson]. And it doesn’t matter who files the appeal because it’s all about management.

“I got a call from Dr Blake, who saw exactly what happened when the violation occurred. It was the fault of the officials. They placed our athlete in the wrong position. When she received the baton, she wasn’t supposed to be in that position. So we filed an appeal, thanks to the management staff, and we were successful.”

Wilson said that the athletes had no time to stay and wait for the outcome of the appeal as they faced a tight window to catch their flight out of Qatar.

“In a case of that nature, where you had to catch a flight in relation to rest of team members, if you are disqualified, they are going to head to the hotel to get their luggage to get out of Doha. It’s just one of those situations in which you really don’t have a lot of control,” he said.