Double trouble - New World Champs date creates conflicts for athletes hoping to also compete at Commonwealth Games
Jamaica Administrative Athletic Association (JAAA) president Warren Blake has an issue with the World Athletics Championships being rescheduled to 2022.
The Championships, set for Eugene, Oregon, USA, had to be moved from August 6-15, 2021, to July 15-24, 2022, because the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Tokyo Olympics back a year to summer 2021, resulting in a clash of schedules.
But Blake says the new World Championships date presents a problem as it will now end just three days before the start of the 2022 Commonwealth Games set for Birmingham, England. This creates planning issues for athletes who intended to compete at both events.
Blake says that traditionally, more established athletes target the World Champs, while the young and upcoming ones look to build their reputation and experience at the Commonwealth Games, and he anticipates that this will be the case for the 2022 events.
“Not a lot of senior athletes will want to do two main competitions back-to-back,” Blake told The Gleaner. “The throwers and jumpers, maybe, but the runners tend to want a little space between. But it will open opportunities for some lesser-known athletes to compete. Some who will not make the World Championship (team) can make it to the Commonwealth Games.”
He is also confident the JAAA will be able to supply quality athletes to both events.
“Some athletes are accustomed to going to two Diamond League events back-to-back, so this will not affect them much,” he said. “But not all of them would want to compete in two major championships one week after the other,” he assessed.
MVP Track Club president Bruce James thinks it is exciting times for track and field with five successive global events annually for the next five years. He believes this can help regenerate interest and enthusiasm for track and field. However, like Blake, he expects many athletes who did not make the World Championships team to make up the Commonwealth Games contingent.
“Some will choose to double up, but some will just do the World Championships,” James said. “It will allow for a lot more participation.”
Commonwealth Games 2018 and Pan American Games 2019 discus throw silver medallist Traves Smikle said that moving the World Championships to 2022, was expected and is not a problem for him.
“I don’t have any problem with it because of the current [world health] situation. It just makes sense,” Smikle said. “We just have to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for those games.”
Doha World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rushell Clayton, however, is not looking that far down the road and is just hoping to get through the year ‘healthily’.
“I haven’t thought about anything in 2022. That’s the honest truth,” she said. “I need to get through this year healthy into next season. So right now it’s all about staying healthy, and it’s not about sport-related injuries. It’s about getting through this pandemic. So I am working as best as I can, improvising and just trying to get through this whole ordeal healthy.”
Five year senior athletics itinerary:
- 2021 – Olympics Games – Tokyo, Japan
- 2022 – World Athletics Championships – Eugene, Oregon, USA
- 2022 – Commonwealth Games – Birmingham, England
- 2023 – World Athletics Championships – Budapest, Hungary
- 2024 – Olympics Games – Paris, France
- 2025 – World Athletics Championships – To Be Decided