Ainsley Walters, Sunday Gleaner Writer
TAKEN aback by statements expressed by Mike Fennell, chairman of the selection panel of Jamaica's Sportsman and Woman of the Year Awards, Jamaica Taekwondo Association (JTA) executive, Denise Romero, has rushed to her organisation's defence.
Romero, reacting to Fennell questioning the JTA's credentials after she had submitted two of its fighters as nominees for Sportsman and Woman of the Year, said the JTA is aligned to the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), one of the largest martial-arts organisations in the world.
"The Jamaica Taekwondo Association is over 30 years old and fully operates with the full support of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).
"It teaches tae kwon do, free of cost, at boys' schools in the Corporate Area and at Cornwall College in Montego Bay, in addition to a course of study at the University of Technology," she pointed out.
Romero said Fennell's statements, "I don't know about that body. It is not a recognised body. I don't know who they are affiliated to," smacked of disrespect to the JTA, which is set to host the ITF World Cup in Montego Bay, in August 2014.
"More than 60 countries are expected to attend the ITF World Cup, which is being held only for the second time in this hemisphere. The ITF is a member of SportAccord, and to hear this from the president of the Jamaica Olympic Association was really embarrassing," she added.
SportAccord is the umbrella organisation for all (Olympic and non-Olympic) international sports federations, as well as organisers of multi-sports games and sport-related international associations.
It has 93 full members (international sports federations governing specific sports worldwide) and 16 associate members (organisations which conduct activities closely related to the international sports federations).
Romero pointed out that it was ironic that Fennell pointed to the Jamaica Taekwondo Federation as "the body affiliated to the World Taekwondo Federation, which is recognised internationally and by the International Olympic Committee".
"Mr Fennell should realise that, since 2001, virtually all athletes residing in Jamaica, who have gone to events sanctioned by the Jamaica Olympic Association, including the Olympics, were Jamaica Taekwondo black belts, namely Jason McKay, Arthur Barrows, Nicholas Dusard and Olympian Kenneth Edwards," she stated.