Sun | Nov 17, 2019

Blake hopeful about Ja, Kenya coaching partnership

Published:Saturday | October 19, 2019 | 12:13 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Aisha Praught-Leer (third left) competing in the first round of the women’s 1500m race at the IAAF World Championships held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
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Although the Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA) was not party to an agreement between the Jamaican and Kenyan governments signed in Doha, Qatar, during the recent IAAF World Championships, president Dr Warren Blake says it is something they are looking to explore and make the most of.

The two governments made a deal to exchange technical expertise in track and field, with Jamaica to assist the African nation with the sprints and Kenya to provide long- and middle-distance support to Jamaica.

Blake said that distance running is the only area of global athletics where Jamaica is yet to make a real mark, and he believes that with the right financial support of the Government, that could change.

“Even though we were not included in the initial process, it is part of the thing that we are trying to do, which is broaden the scope of Jamaican track and field as that is the only way we are going to stay on top for the long term,” Blake said. “Veronica Campbell-Brown’s statue will be unveiled on Sunday at the Stadium, so I am hoping I get a chance to raise it with her (Sports Minister Olivia Grange). If not, next week I will to do that,” he said.

“We haven’t excelled in distance running. We have had occasional athletes who have performed reasonably in the area like Kemoy Campbell, Aisha Praught[-Leer] and Natoya Goule, but we are not consistent in putting out middle- and long-distance runners.”

GOVERNMENT BACKING

Blake said that a similar agreement was signed between both countries in 2012, but it fell apart because of what he said were unforeseen circumstances. However, he hopes this new initiative can lead to something much more positive.

“It is something the JAAA has looked at in the past, so we are hoping with government backing, as we hope they will pump some finance into it, we can make it a reality,” he said.

“We have enough [talented, motivated athletes]. But part of what is lacking is training and work ethic. When our coaches go abroad and work with other people, our coaches complain that the people there don’t have the work ethic for sprints. It is because it is what they are used to. They are use to one set of work for the sprints, but here, they are not used to the work for the middle- and long-distance running. So we have to get them exposed to people who are used to doing that every day so we can build it among a group of youngsters.

“Ideally, I would like us to start with Class One high school youngsters, get some promising Class Ones and see if we can help them make the transition to the seniors. So it is going to be something that is going to have to continue for a few years. So I wouldn’t expect it to bear fruit in Japan 2020, but probably in Oregon (for the 2021 World Championships), when we have enough time to work at it and build a programme around it.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com