I will write other columns in the near future talking about Jamaica's relatively good showing at the London Olympics so far. That will come after it's all over, but for now it's impossible not to comment on the huge communications blunder that affected our 4x400m men's team, by having a clearly injured Jermaine Gonzales competing, and subsequently pulling up, in the heats of the event.
When Gonzales finished sixth in the heats of the 400 metres flat, it was clear to all and sundry that he was not himself. He did a pedestrian 46.21. Gonzales, himself, in a post-race interview after that failed 400 heat, made it clear that he was not, physically, in the best of shape - and that this has been something that affected him going some way back.
He talked about being "in an out of hospitals" prior to the national trials, and that he only took the chance of going in the 400 because he thought it would be hard for the other quarter-milers in the squad. He said, clearly: "If it is up to me, I don't want to run on that relay team, as I am sure the other guys are running faster than me right now."
CONCERN OVER INJURY
The concern over Jermaine's injury was widely circulated all over Jamaica. We all listened to that post-race interview after the 400 heat.
What is now mind-boggling is that neither the technical director, Donald Quarrie, nor head coach, Maurice Wilson, appeared to realise that Gonzales was so badly injured. How can this be? Wilson was on television yesterday morning saying if they knew Jermaine was that badly affected, they would never have risked him in the 4x400. KLAS SPORTS FM 89 spoke to Donald Quarrie yesterday morning after Gonzales pulled up in the 4x400 heats. Quarrie had clearly heard (or heard about) Gonzales' interview after his sixth-place finish in the heats.
This was Quarrie's take:
"When he [Gonzales] gave his interview, he was not very happy the way he ran the last time, in the open race. Concern he had was his performance. There was never a concern about his ability to compete. He has been training since, very well, and last night the decision was, since we had a very stiff heat ... we gonna put the best four out there to make sure that we get into the finals. Unfortunately, Jermaine got hurt."
Now, unless Jermaine gave different interviews to different people immmediately after that 400 heat, I find Donald Quarrie's statement to be very, very strange. Which interview was Quarrie listening to? When Quarrie said Jermaine was merely concerned with his performance but never worried about his ability to compete, I was shocked! That statement is completely out of sync with what we were hearing from Gonzales himself.
Jermaine was clearly stating that he was not in the best of health, and that he would prefer not to run the relays because he clearly wasn't in good condition, while Quarrie was saying the technical staff had "no clue" that Jermaine was in the state he was in.
This is a breakdown of immense proportions. How could that be? Who is to blame?
But even more strange than that is the fact that, according to Quarrie, Jermaine was training not only well, but "very well", in the lead-up to the 4x400 heats.
What are we to make of this? How could Jermaine have been training "very well" leading up to the relays when he was complaining so bitterly about his condition only days before? What exactly is the true story here?
And, if Jermaine knew he was not in good physical condition prior to the relays, wasn't he obligated to let the technical staff know about it, to at least give them the option of deciding if they wanted to take that risk? Why did Jermaine Gonzales apparently keep the technical staff in the dark about his condition, although he was prepared to tell it to a reporter who put a microphone to his face, effectively telling it to the whole world?
Something doesn't quite add up here. Somebody 'a carry we wide!'
KLAS sportscaster Orville Higgins is the 2011 winner of the Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Sports Reporting. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.