Jamaica coach displeased with NACAC effort
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
DESPITE hosting the NACAC Cross-Country Championships for the first time on local soil, the home turf did not help Jamaica, as only the men's 8K team finished among the medals in the event at Manchester Golf Course last Saturday.
Of the four teams entered, the male team finished third overall on 74 points, as they only defeated Trinidad and Tobago (82 points). The United States, with 18 points, topped the section ahead of Canada (22).
Jamaica coach Dean Tomlin, who has guided several of the country's top junior middle-distance athletes at Bellefield High over the years - including Kemoy Campbell - was upset over the team's performance and the lack of respect shown to the middle- and long-distance programme in Jamaica.
"I am not pleased with the overall performance of the Jamaican teams at the championships because, personally, I do not think adequate preparation was made, and we need to take a keen look at our middle- and long-distance runners. Our trials went on the 15th of December and the first time we met as a team was the Friday evening before the meet, and this cannot be right," said Tomlin.
The best Jamaican to finish in the individual segment among the senior men was Kirk Brown, who was 16th overall in 27 minutes, 18 seconds. A new individual champion was crowned as defending champion Levins Cameron of Canada, who ran at last year's London Olympics, was beaten in a close affair by compatriot Craig Forys.
It was an exciting finish by both men, as they had the fair-sized crowd cheering, especially in the final 80 metres that turned out to be a match race, before the new champion outleaned his rival to win in 24:46. Cameron was second in 24:47.
One of the country's top male road race athletes, Shawn Pitter, who did not compete at the National Trials several weeks ago, did not finish the event.
It was the same story for Jamaica in the senior women's 6K, as road race queen Tanice Barnett failed to finish the event, which was won by Canada's Natasha Fraser in 21 minutes, 7 seconds.
Danielle James produced the best finish, 15th overall, in 25 minutes, 27 seconds. The Jamaica team placed fourth overall, the same position won by the junior male and female teams.
Tomlin said local athletes did not get a chance to test the course.
"Athletes from the other countries were able to test the course, unlike ours, because of the lateness coming to the venue, and you could see the lack of preparation at the meet, because when the other competitors were able to change gears during the race, ours could not, as there was no chance for the coaching staff to practise any strategy with the athletes and I do not think our athletes had enough mileage," he continued.
Tomlin also stated that the country could have done much better in the junior category if the right things were done.
"We could have put up a better challenge in this area, but our best middle- and long-distance athletes were not at the meet. This is unfortunate, because this year was a good opportunity for us to do so, because the championships, unlike previous years, was not that close to Boys and Girls' Championships, and nothing would have happened to these athletes, because it was an excellent terrain," he said.