Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Mills: Athletes need to earn

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2020 | 12:23 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter

Veteran athletics coach Glen Mills is hoping a postponement or cancellation of this year’s Olympic Games will not mean that the 2020 athletics season will be cancelled, but would cut a significant portion of track-and-field athletes’ earnings.

Mills, who is at the forefront of calls to postpone the Games because of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, said that events like the Jamaica International Invitational Meet and the Racers Grand Prix do more than just provide entertainment for the public, as a number of athletes without shoe contracts eke out a living by participating in these competitions.

“These meets not only provide competition, they also provide work for the athletes for them to earn. These meets are necessary for athletes to earn so that they can pay their bills. For the athletes, it is just not entertainment, it is business,” Mills explained.

It is becoming more likely that the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for the end of July, will be postponed or cancelled, as Australia and Canada said that they will not be taking part in the Games if they went ahead as planned because of the pandemic.

“If the Olympics are postponed, then meets like Racers Grand Prix could be pushed back to later in the summer if the state of the outbreak improves, because the athletes need to make some money to be able to continue the business of sport,” Mills said.

Difficult to train

The man who conditioned sprinting legend Usain Bolt to three consecutive Olympic titles in the men’s 100 and 200 metres, said that it is difficult for coaches and athletes, at the moment, to train in these uncertain times, as they are no clear targets.

“As it stands, right now, everything is uncertain. We are not able to set any targets because of the uncertainty; and until things begin to take shape again, we cannot plan for anything. What we are doing now is trying to maintain condition; ensuring that the athletes don’t lose physical fitness. The Olympics are in limbo as to when it is going to postpone to. It could be later this year or next year, so it is very difficult to prepare for it,” Mills explained. “The priority, right now, is to maintain fitness, that will allow you to continue your preparation if and when you are called upon.”

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Sunday that it will take four weeks to examine the scenarios and make a decision thereafter.

Mills, who is the director of the Racers Grand Prix, a meet that has recently become a part of World Athletics Continental tour, said his team will discuss the possible scenarios for the four-year-old meet after the IOC makes its decision.

“We will see what the situation is. We will have to see if it is possible, because most of the athletes who participate at the meet come from America, and the virus is spreading there as well as the Caribbean. We will have to talk to World Athletics as well because the meet is a part of their continental tour,” Mills said.