Vietnam switch plans on Jamaica
A TWIST of events ahead of Jamaica's combined martial arts team's March 20 showdown at the Tri-Asian championship has forced captain Jason McKay and coach Claude Chin to face a coalition force of Vietnam and Poland in Ho Chi Minh City.
Invited to be part of the now established three-nation Asian tournament, Jamaica were expecting to face either Poland or Vietnam in a one-off final after drawing to see who would have received a bye.
However, the organisers threw in a spanner in the works by deciding to have a best-of-the-best showdown, featuring two-time defending champions Jamaica, 2006 and 2008 winners, up against the best drawn from Poland and hosts Vietnam.
This will be the first time the combined team, successful in 34 consecutive bouts, will be facing a coalition of two countries, a call which coach Chin left to captain McKay, the team's fitness director.
McKay said arrangements were too advanced to back out of the challenge despite the lengthy travel time to get to Vietnam to face the Vietnam-Poland coalition.
The captain said he has been having sleepless nights as the decision, under the circumstances, puts the team's unbeaten streak - a major selling point of its sponsorship - at risk.
"I have spoken with the organisers and have agreed to the new conditions," he said.
"It does breach a basic condition of the team's initial agreement to compete against other national teams, making the task we have trained for harder.
"However, we know the make-up of the teams we were down to face and will just have to adjust in training," he added.
McKay said a victory would greatly enhance Jamaica's resume, as such a showdown was unprecedented in national team fighting.
"It is a different dynamics to combine the strengths of two teams but, at this point, we need the match.
"I am sure we can pull it off, the only country of note we haven't beaten is North Korea and we'll just have to go for it," added the team captain, who will also be coaching the combined female team, who were invited to face their Vietnamese counterparts.
The dual role, McKay said, will be tough for him, especially with the new development, but he said he knows how to balance his act.
"I really don't believe it's a smart thing to do but the girls were invited and I couldn't take an about-turn on them," he said.