We lack depth! - Track and field experts say talent pool too small to exclude coaches
Two of Jamaica's most respected voices in track and field believe that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) must do more to manage the conduct of coaches and athletes on national duty overseas.
Since the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, which ended on August 13, there have been calls for coaches who are associated with athletes at international competitions to not be part of the senior coaching staff as conflicts of interest may arise.
Head coach Maurice Wilson, who was also coach of nine athletes on the national team in London, was singled out.
Other members of the coaching staff in London also had athletes on the team. David Riley coaches long jumper Ramone Bailey, while Paul Francis, who is head coach at the University of Technology and also affiliated with the MVP Track Club, had responsibility for athletes Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Shericka Jackson, among others.
A bust-up between McPherson and Jackson was made public by technical leader Donald Quarrie, who also questioned the decision of Francis to pull McPherson from the women's 4x400m relay.
JAAA MUST LEAD
Track analyst Laurie Foster says that the pool of respected coaches is so small that the mandate must come from the JAAA to manage the issues that may arise.
"Private coaches also happen to be the most senior of our coaches and the most knowledgeable. So although, in principle, I accept the view that coaches with athletes must not be part of the pool, where are you going to find the coaches to do that? They just don't exist," he told The Gleaner.
Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, who represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games from 1984 to 1992, agreed that the options are few, and, therefore, it is incumbent on the JAAA to resolve the issues.
"We have a small pool of good coaches who have a reputation, so it's going to be a little bit difficult to say the top coaches in Jamaica cannot be a part of the coaching teams going away. It's best if we have such a small pool (of coaches). We have to iron this out for the good of Jamaica. We can't go on the world stage again and let people hear of a 'cass-cass'," she said.
She added: "My suggestion is to fix whatever the problem that the JAAA may be having now with coaches interfering when you send a team away. Coaches must understand that [they are] also a member of the team," she said.
Meanwhile, JAAA President Dr Warren Blake dismissed the idea of excluding private coaches from national teams as "ridiculous".
"If we were to exclude these coaches, we wouldn't have anybody to take. We have usually chosen coaches for teams based on their success to getting athletes there. That is one of the criteria that we use. So if we were to suddenly exclude these coaches, we wouldn't have anybody to take because the senior coaches are the ones who happen to have athletes on the team," he said.