Who will win? - Jackson, Eatmon challenge Blake for JAAA presidency
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
The next executive body to marshall the country's track and field for the next four years will be elected today at the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) at the National Arena, starting at 5:30 p.m.
More than 370 delegates are eligible to vote in what is expected to be a tension-filled National Arena, as incumbent Dr Warren Blake and his executive will be under pressure to continue at the helm.
Blake will be challenged by former JAAA first vice-president Lincoln Eatmon and Olympian Grace Jackson, who is hoping to create history by becoming the first female to head the JAAA.
Delegates are expected to turn out in large numbers as Blake, who took over the reins following the sudden death of former president - the charismatic Howard Aris - a year ago, has come under severe pressure because of his leadership style, with him being accused of being too laid-back.
Only recently, in interviews on television and radio, one of Blake's executive members, vice-president Donald Quarrie, blasted the president for what he termed "lack of vision" and vowed not to support him at today's election.
Interestingly, the Olympian was removed from Blake's slate for the election. Quarrie accused Blake of removing him because Racers Track Club president Glen Mills said if he was on Blake's team his club would not offer its support at the election.
Watts could face pressure
One man expected to come under pressure will be treasurer Ludlow Watts, who was the manager of the Jamaica team to the Olympic Games in London. Last March, a letter from Blake to Watts was leaked to the media. It inquired why Watts did not inform about critical information surrounding the JAAA, and requested answers.
Watts will be challenged by the veteran Bernard Panton from the Eatmon slate, who has served the JAAA in this capacity during the leadership of Adrian Wallace and Patrick Anderson. Joseph Taff will vie for this post on the Jackson ticket.
Although Jackson is well respected in Jamaica and the world in the sport, it looks a two-way fight for the top post between Blake and Eatmon, as both teams have strong candidates and it should be a close fight.
Unlike previous years when voters go for an entire slate, word on the road is they will not be going this route this time as there are excellent individuals on all three slates.
However, this is not a certainty, as the elected president's backers could give his team full support, as there is a feeling that with the level of controversies and finger-pointing preceding the election, a mixed slate could generate problems among the executive.
Besides Jackson and Quarrie, there are three other members of Blake's present executive who have 'jumped ship' and will be running on the Eatmon ticket. These are Alfred 'Franno' Francis, who will vie for first vice-president against Kingston College principal Dave Myrie; Edward Hector, vice-principal of Holmwood Technical, who will go up against Olympic 4x100 metres relay gold medallist Michael Frater for the third vice-president; and director of records, Charles Fuller, who will go up against Ewan Scott from the Blake team and former athlete Maurice Wignall from the Jackson team.