Sprinter peeved at coach's criticism over JAAA position
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Michael Frater has quit MVP Track Club over what he says is the disrespect being shown to him by head coach Stephen Francis, following his decision to run for the post of vice-president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).
In the lead-up to and following the JAAA elections on November 29, reports had surfaced that Francis was not keen on Frater getting involved in the politics of the sport.
The controversial head coach was quoted as saying that if Dr Warren Blake was returned as president, Frater would have to prove to him that he would be looking out for his (Francis') interests, and had to prove that he would not allow the JAAA to convince him to sabotage the club.
Frater, now the third vice-president of the JAAA, won most votes by any individual candidate, with 204 of the 370 available votes during the elections.
The slight was too much for Frater, who returned to Jamaica in 2005 to join MVP, the same year he won a silver medal in the 100-metre dash at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
loyalty in question
"I've decided to sever ties with MVP, unfortunately," Frater said yesterday. "For Stephen Francis, the coach I have had for almost 20 years, to have come out publicly and criticise my loyalty and my integrity, it was pretty unfortunate. And for me to remain at MVP I would not be comfortable, knowing that someone who has been there for most of my life doesn't have my interests at heart.
"Despite the fact that I am a member of the JAAA I am still an athlete, and for me to compete at a high level I have to be in an environment where I have support not only from my fellow athletes, but from the most important part of the training group, which is the coach."
He continued: "It's obvious to me and everyone that he doesn't have my interest at heart, and for that reason, after basically 20 years of partnership, he has publicly tried to smear my reputation as being someone who would sabotage a club that I have been with all my professional career."
The two-time Olympic gold medallist said he sent a letter to Francis yesterday informing him of the decision to part ways with the club. He is awaiting a reply, but doesn't expect one. He reveals that Francis' statements really hurt him as the MVP head coach was like family.
"Nothing in my career has hurt me as much as that," he said. "Stephen Francis has coached me my entire career, except for when I left to study abroad. Nothing has hurt me as much to the core for him to think that (I'd sabotage) a club that I have been with my entire life. This man has been very influential in my upbringing, and apart from my mother and my father, he was the man I grew up looking up to."
After graduating from Texas Christian University, Frater said he had offers from many coaches, but he decided to return and be coached by Francis, who was then virtually unknown.
"I came back to Jamaica to work with Coach Francis, who at that time was not a highly rated coach as he is now. Many people thought it was a risk coming back to work with him, but I didn't see it as a risk. It was going back to the man who had coached me throughout high school, an integral part of my upbringing, and just continuing my journey in track and field."
There have been media reports linking the 29-year-old sprinter to the Glen Mills-coached Racers Track Club, but Frater, who recently underwent knee surgery, has debunked those reports, saying he has not spoken to Mills about joining the club, but concedes that he wants to remain in Jamaica.
"For me right now, I am just focusing on rehab. As most people know, six weeks ago I did knee surgery and I am just concentrating on my rehab. Hopefully, I will be able to return to the track sometime soon, but I haven't made any decision on what I am going to do in terms of training anywhere else, or anything like that."