There’s still time - JC coach says 10-week window enough to prepare for Champs but concerned about approval delays
Jamaica College track and field head coach Neil Harrison says that there is still enough time for the junior track and field season to be completed and for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) to be held although...
Jamaica College track and field head coach Neil Harrison says that there is still enough time for the junior track and field season to be completed and for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) to be held although he is concerned about the prolonged approval process.
Although the Government authorised the return of sports on a case-by-case basis on February 5, no approval has been given for the developmental season to begin. More than 20 events had to be postponed as a result, and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases led to ISSA changing the date of Champs from March 23-27 to April 27-May 1, giving athletes a window of a maximum of 10 weeks to compete and qualify, depending on whether the season starts. Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) First Vice-President Ian Forbes confirmed that no meets would take place this week.
Harrison said that the approval process has been frustrating but believes that the window is still viable to have the developmental meets necessary for qualification.
“We got the green light, but we are wondering if the light is really green,” Harrison told The Gleaner. “Ideally, I would prefer if we could get things going the last week of February or the first week in March. I think that would be more [suitable to] some of us coaches rather than to go mid-March.”
The approval process for events goes through the director for sport at the Ministry of Sport, who will forward documents to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management for final approval, along with consultation from the Ministry of Health. Forbes says that the JAAA is unclear about the reasons behind the slow response to the requests but is hopeful that it will get authorisation to begin on Saturday next week.
“It’s difficult to pre-empt,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s due to the current situation, where things, in terms of the pandemic, have escalated somewhat. It could be out of an abundance of caution. We have not had anything definitive, but we are hoping by [today], or by the latest Monday, for the 27th [to begin].”
However, there are concerns about how coaches will manage their athletes once they resume given the short time to prepare. Calabar assistant coach Errol Messiah said that the limited number of events could see their athletes being under pressure to perform immediately.
“Everybody wants to ensure that the athletes will be qualified, and hence they are going to have them run real hard to qualify for the championships,” he said. “That is the only drawback, but it is in the hands of the coaches to ensure that they don’t overwork the athletes.”
Harrison expressed similar concerns.
“Generally, with the original [timeline] that was in place for Champs, it gives you a better opportunity in terms of how you qualify your athletes that you can pick, choose, and refuse,” Harrison said. “Now you might have a view if the athlete doesn’t make the target by [a certain] time, you would be putting him under so much pressure to achieve.”