Track team performed beyond expectations - Graham
GUADALAJARA, Mexico:Raymond 'KC' Graham, head coach of Jamaica's track and field squad to the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, has declared that his under-strength team performed beyond expectations in the athletics competition here.
Jamaica ended the Games with seven medals overall, five in track and field. Graham said with the inexperience and the lack of numbers he had to cope with, five medals was a fairly good haul.
"I think we performed beyond expectations as nobody expected us to get five medals, and I want to say congratulations to the medal winners because they have helped to keep Jamaica's flag flying high," he said at the Telmex Athletics Stadium last Friday night.
Graham, a former Camperdown High and St Jago High coach, who is now director of sports at Mico University College, added that the task was always difficult as they arrived here short on both quality and quantity.
"We came here very short ... . Some of the athletes, to be honest with you, they were not up to it. Most of them have been doing their background work. We just made up a team, we just were not ready in the relays," Graham said in commenting on the women's sprint-relay quartet which failed to get the baton past the first exchange on Friday.
He added: "Some of the athletes were not prepared to run at this stage (this late in the season) and in the conditions (high altitude). If you look at the relay (women's sprint), for example, this is the first senior meet for the person who started. We just had to use what we had, we just entered a team ... . It (running well) was always against the odds based on the people we had. We did not have the bodies ... .
"(Also) if you look at the people who got medals - Simone Facey, Lerone Clarke, Maurice Smith, Lansford Spence and Isa Phillips - these are the experienced people. The rookies failed to deliver because this is something new for them. However, they can only get better from here."
Opening runner Ornella Livingston and Anastasia LeRoy failed to complete the first exchange in the women's sprint relay here on Friday evening. The other members of the quartet were Facey and Yanique Ellington.
The head coach, in also lauding his team management and coaching staff, said Jamaica's "weak" team here had to compete against powerful Cuba and Brazil who came here with all their top athletes to "one of the most competitive Pan American Games ever".
With the men's marathon to go today, Jamaica are now in eighth spot in track and field with a gold and four silver medals. Cuba lead the way with 18 gold, six silver and nine bronze for a total of 33. Brazil's tally is 9-6-7 for 22 overall, while the United States are third on 16 medals, 4-8-4.