Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president, Dr Warren Blake, has sought to allay fears that the country might lose out to the USA and Australia on an exchange programme with Kenya, due to delays in identifying a coach to take up duties in the East African nation.
Blake initially met with Kenya's head of Athletics Federation, Isaiah Kiplagat, on the sidelines of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where preliminary discussions were held for the countries to engage in an exchange programme. The programme would see Kenya sending a distance coach to Jamaica, in return for a sprint coach to do similar duties in the African country.
Kenya has since selected Joseph Ngure, a respected long-distance coach who has worked in their high performance centre for over seven years, to come to Jamaica.
Jamaica has, however, failed to reciprocate, which has led to Kenyan newspaper Coastweek stating that Ngure will not take up duties on the island until Jamaica has identified "a respected and qualified coach ready to work in Africa".
"I got communication from Jamaica, which said their first choice coach has declined to come to Nairobi," Kiplagat is quoted by Coastweek as saying. "They are looking for another coach, and as soon as that is finalised, then we will release Ngure to go to Kingston.
"America and Australia have expressed interest to exchange coaches with us. They want to boost their performance in long distance and we want to improve in short distance. We will discuss with them and see where we will be."
Blake is confident, however, that Jamaica will get the services of a coach from Kenya and is optimistic that a local coach will be identified, to be sent in short order.
"Our coaches are in demand, but I am hoping that it won't be much longer," Blake told The Gleaner. "We are going to get the distance coach and we are going to send them a coach in return.
"The Kenyans have said if we want we can go ahead and bring their coach to Jamaica, and when we sort out the issues with our coach to come down there we let them know and they will tell us when he is to come. So they are not holding it to us that when their coach come, ours must go at the same time."
Blake did confirm that the administration's first-choice coach to go on the exchange programme declined the invitation.
"I had spoken to a coach, who for now shall remain nameless, and initially the person said 'yes' he could go, but he would have to speak to his family," Blake recounted. "I had gone ahead and sent it in, but then the person came back with various commitments and other things, they said it couldn't work out. So we now have to throw it out and try identifying another coach."