Waiting game - Continued uncertainty frustrates athletes
Bruce James, president of the MVP Track and Field Club, said the continued cancellation of Diamond League and other international athletics meets presents a major challenge for local athletes, who are still in training but have no idea when they will get the first taste of competition this season.
The coronavirus pandemic brought the sporting world to a standstill in March, with only a handful of leagues and competitions recently making a return. However, athletics is one of the sports still struggling to come back on stream and only last week, organisers of the Diamond League announced additional alterations to their provisional calendar, cancelling the Prefontaine Classic (Oct 4) and the Paris meet (Sept 6), adding to the earlier cancellations of the Rabat, London and Zurich events.
Additionally, the meet at Gateshead in England, which was provisionally scheduled for August 16, has also been postponed to September and James said the uncertainty has been frustrating for athletes.
“The global situation is still dynamic and fluid, so we still don’t know what the future holds. Our athletes are preparing so we can be in a position to do the best for our athletes. So everything is dynamic, even here in Jamaica we are making decisions each day and each week about how much we open the island or not,” James said.
“For us to have athletes going to Europe, we would have to know that we can even enter Europe and Europe is still going through their process of determining people from which country can or cannot enter. So even if you do enter, what’s the process? So it’s a very dynamic and fluid situation and we just have to continue to pivot as the situation changes day by day or week by week,” he said.
James is hopeful that athletes will have an opportunity before the end of the year to compete.
“The athletes at MVP Track and Field Club are training in the hope that they do get to compete this year,” James stated. “The biggest challenge is training in an environment of uncertainty. When you are racing and you know you have races lined up, it’s different. So the real challenge is training without knowing what’s happening next. We don’t know what competitions will be on or won’t be on, we just have to watch and see as the situation develops.”
Meanwhile, World Championshp discus silver medallist, Fedrick Dacres, said like many athletes, he is preparing for competition, but would prefer to attend local meets due to the safety concerns and uncertainty overseas.
“We received a provisional list and there are a few meets but I am waiting for things to calm down to see what’s left. So I am not really pushing to go abroad to compete right now but if there are meets in Jamaica, I will probably go to those meets but abroad is risky and I am just trying to keep safe and healthy,” added Dacres, who also weighed in on the financial implications for some athletes.
“If they (organisers) don’t think they are ready to carry the Diamond League or other competitions, the best decision is to cancel or postpone. Of course it has affected us financially. I am one of the few that is generally all right with contracts, so competing is just to get bonus and things like that. But really I could be making a lot more money. I am okay but there are others not that lucky and may have a different perspective. So it (cancellations) does affect our financial standing, so we have to push through because everyone (globally) is having problem (financially) and we are just a part of it,” he reasoned.