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'No automatic place' - JAAA defends Morgan's omission from Olympic team

Published:Monday | July 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
Dr Warren Blake, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, speaks with Martin Lyn, during a press conference yesterday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, to announce Jamaica's team to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next month.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president, Dr Warren Blake, has defended the association's selection policy and its decision to leave discus athlete Jason Morgan off its list of 59 track and field athletes selected for the Olympic Games.

Morgan, who finished fourth at the National Senior Championships with a mark of 59.08 metres, will not be making the trip to Rio de Janeiro after a disappointing and injury-affected season that has seen him register a best throw of 63.11m - well outside the Olympic qualifying mark of 65.00m.

He does, however, meet the standard, having thrown 68.19m on June 6, 2015, which not only occurred within the May 1, 2015 to July 11, 2016 Olympic qualifying period, but was also the second best throw by anyone on the planet last season.



Blake admitted that there were doubts around Morgan's competitive value and also expressed concern about the credibility of some of the meets that the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner registers his biggest marks.

"(Jason) Morgan did not finish in the top three (at trials), so he has no automatic place on the team. The history with Morgan is that he only throws the qualifying standard at a particular meet early in the season and he never repeats this, so it was the view of the selection committee that he shouldn't be included," Blake told reporters at a press conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday, which was used to announce a 63-member team to the Olympic Games.

Jamaica will also be represented in swimming by Alia Atkinson and Timothy Wynter, diving with Yona Knight-Wisdom and gymnastics through Toni-Ann Williams.

"There is a question about it (credibility) because he throws long distances at this meet every year - year in, year out and he never comes close at any other meet and if you look at his history it can be substantiated and he did not come in the top three so he has no claim for automatic qualification," added Blake.

Morgan's 68.19m was registered at the Peak Performance Classic in the city of Pearl in Mississippi, USA, and is listed number two on the IAAF's Top List for 2015. It is also recognised as the best mark ever by a Jamaican athlete and has him listed as the 54th best discus athlete in history by the IAAF.

However, contrary to Blake's statistic, Morgan's best mark for the previous year - 64.72m, came at the Hattiesburg Southern Miss Blake and Gold Invite in May, with his 65.95m SB in 2013 coming at Jim Mize Invitational in Louisiana.



Morgan, speaking to The Gleaner yesterday evening, says he is hoping that the JAAA will change its position.

"I trust God that this decision will be overturned. I have worked so hard, honestly. I have shown my work ethic daily on my social media posts for years. I achieved all my accomplishments with dedication and determination and have worked so hard to throw the Olympic standard. I have completed all the requirements to be selected to the team, so this is a shock to me," said Morgan.

"Ma and my family made so much sacrifice to prepare for this Olympics knowing it would be my last one. I hope the JAAA will reconsider. I have so many fans all over the world reaching out to me in disappointment and anger, but God is in control and the JAAA will recognise my honest and hard work and give me that spot I have earned," Morgan added. "I want to thank the JAAA in advance and I will trust God's plans for my future."

On whether or not its selection policy which speaks to top-three ranking was ambiguous, as it could mean the top-three ranked based on marks or times registered in the overall Olympics qualifying window or top-three based on the current IAAF top list, Blake made it clear the JAAA was only interested in ensuring it has the opportunity to select its best teams.

"It is what is is, we have to have some flexibility so we can select our best athletes at the time of the Games. We are not America and we will not cut off our noses to spite our faces," he noted.