Sat | Jun 12, 2021

The Wright View: Worlds review needed

Published:Monday | August 31, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr. Paul Wright

The World Championships in Beijing, China are over. Nine (9) days of intense athletic competition that revealed not only physical athletic prowess, but seemingly now very important, mental toughness and experience of the many athletes from all over the world.
The sight of athletically gifted individuals performing sub-par robbed viewers of some potentially mouth-watering clashes, as expert analysts pontificated on nerves, pressure and inexperience. What else can explain Justin Gatlin’s imitation of an Olympic swimmer as Usain Bolt refused to fade away in the last 30 metres of the 100-metre final as so many rivals have done in the past year? What else (other than nerves/pressure) can explain Mike Rogers refusal to wait for the baton that Tyson Gay was valiantly trying to give to him, when Rogers saw Bolt passing him with the baton in his hand?
I have sympathy for these men as I do believe that lesser men would just break down in tears when they came to the realisation that the hype and promises from coaches, mentors and analysts were nothing but fluff, hot air and had no basis in the reality of modern sprinting when the greatest track and field athlete that ever lived is on the track in an Olympics or World Championships.
These Championships, tainted by allegations of doping cover-ups by the authorities and positive drug tests from athletes in the Games Village, were successfully rescued by ‘clean’ (so far) athletes who defeated those with previous proven positives time after time to the obvious relief of the newly installed President of the governing body, the IAAF.
There will be the usual ‘what-went-wrong’ review by those countries that have spent millions of ‘real’ dollars in preparing their stars for the competition and who never delivered.
The vexed (to Jamaica) issue of relay camps will certainly be reviewed by the USA and Great Britain, as once again athletes from these countries failed to deliver the baton or to stay in the transfer zone, when the pressure is on. It would seem to me that the fact that ALL of Jamaica’s attempts at having mandatory camps to practice relays have been sub-par must be factored in any future review of mandatory camps.
Further, the statement from head coach Maurice Wilson regarding the implementation of an idea for the women’s 4x400m relay team - given to the coaches panel by Paul Francis, brother of certified genius coach Stephen Francis - must be duly recognised and plans made to include suggestions from successful coaches when teams are selected to major Championships, instead of the usual practice of giving a mediocre coach a trip with the real potential of disrupting the psyche of our athletic stars.
It is my hope that the celebrations that will accompany the return of the team from Beijing will not mean that a real review of our performances will take place. There will be the temptation for those associated with the team to Beijing to indulge in high-fives and back slapping, thus effectively muting any criticism of glaring deficiencies that appeared over the nine days in China.
I am suggesting a review of the baton changing exploits of the Chinese 4x100 relay (men) to see what we can learn. I am suggesting that there be a review of the tactics of Novlene Williams-Mills as she chased the woman with the fastest 400-metre time this year, Francena McCorory, in the 4x400 relay final.
Williams-Mills, our most experienced runner in the quartet that ran in the finals (and the slowest), waited and waited, seemingly not perturbed when the American increased the lead on her as she left the 200-metre mark, but unleashed a finish in the straight where the maximum effort matters most.
I submit that if our final leg runner in the men’s 4x400m race adopted similar tactics, 13 medals would have been garnered.
Also, would a word from someone/anyone to an athlete who hit nine hurdles in a semi-final prevent the same athlete hitting seven hurdles in the final?
I look forward to a real review of our very successful performance in Beijing. Congrats team!