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Bitter pill - JAAA disappointed at postponement of World Indoors because of coronavirus

Published:Thursday | January 30, 2020 | 12:00 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Maurice Wilson
Warren Blake
Demish Gaye
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Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake said the postponement of this year’s World Athletics Indoor Championships is not good news for the Jamaican athletes. This, he says, is because they will be missing out on valuable competition in what is an Olympic year.

Athletics’ global governing body made the decision because of the Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, just over 330 miles away from Nanjing, where the Championships were to be held. There are now over 6,000 reported cases of the virus in mainland China and 132 related deaths.

While admitting that the postponement was inevitable because of the circumstances, athletes will have one less competition to fine-tune their preparations for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

“I am sure athletes will be disappointed with the postponement because it is one less competitive meet for them to sharpen their skills,” Blake told The Gleaner. “Athletes need these kinds of competitions to know where they are in their preparations, so it is not good news when you look at it.”

One coach who is disappointed is Maurice Wilson of Sprintec Track Club, who was looking forward to the championships.

While not surprised at the decision, Wilson was quick to mention that the health of the athlete comes first, however, he was hoping that the organisers would have found suitable alternatives for the championship.

“We were looking forward to this Championships because we have invested quite a lot, and persons were looking to get qualifying marks at this meet, so it is a huge disappointment,” Wilson said.

Missed showcase

Part of that disappointment for Wilson is that his athlete, Tovea Jenkins, will not get a chance to match her skills against some of the world’s best.

Jenkins has been in fine form, recording the fastest time over 400m indoors this season at 53.40 seconds at the Clemson Orange and Purple Elite meet in South Carolina earlier this month. Other Sprintec athletes who would have competed at the championships are Demish Gaye and Anastasia Leroy.

In 2018, the JAAA sent a 28-member team to the Championships in Birmingham, England, however, the association had not yet named the team for the championships in Nanjing.

Some of Jamaica’s other top athletes had not made themselves available for the event, including starlet Briana Williams, who ran a scintillating 7.15 seconds over 60 metres at the Queen’s/Grace Jackson Meet at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Blake said that the association would not be making any special plans in the absence of the Championships; however, it would be going ahead with its planning and preparations for a pre-Olympic camp in the coastal prefecture of Tottori in Japan in July.

World Athletics made the postponement on the advice of its medical team, which was in contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO deemed that the spread of the Coronavirus is still at a concerning level both within China and globally and that no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.

The event, which was to be held between March 13 and 15, has now been shifted to March 2021.