Fri | Dec 13, 2019

Befriend the camera, youngsters – Whittaker

Published:Monday | December 2, 2019 | 12:10 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

Experienced sports journalist Lance Whittaker believes that the next generation of track and field stars will have to become friends of the camera.

Whittaker, who was the guest speaker at the recent launch of the 17th Heart Institute of the Caribbean Wesley Powell Track and Field Meet, drew the conclusion from observations during the Doha World Championships.

Whittaker said the pyrotechnics, dramatic introductions, and extra camera angles seen in Doha constituted a step in the right direction by the body now known as World Athletics.

With an attentive audience noting each word in the Excelsior High School auditorium, the SportsMax executive producer said, “Now we know how good the Americans are at putting sports on television, and I feel World Athletics is going in the right direction to make the athletics coverage on television look compelling, look irresistible, look attractive.”

Whittaker, who has covered the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, says the change has implications for athletes.

“So if you are an introvert, if you are someone who doesn’t like the spotlight, your coaches and your agents have to work with you because you have to act in the way that Usain Bolt did, and warm to this idea of the camera and everything being a little more glaring,” he said.

With Excelsior’s World Under-18 100m hurdles record holder Ackera Nugent in the audience, Whittaker added, “It’s also a part of the development of track and field, and I think it is a good direction that it is going into because television is what drives popularity for sport, and if [World Athletics] wants the World Championships to begin to look more glitzy and attractive to the TV viewers, it will only benefit the athletes involved.”

Anchored by the Heart Institute as the title sponsor to the tune of $300,000, the Wesley Powell Meet will feature 40 track and 36 field events on December 14 on the school’s nine-lane 400m oval. As usual, the track races will use training distances of 150m, 300m, 600m and 1,000m, as well at the 3,000m and 5,000m.