Sun | Nov 28, 2021

ISSA outlines streamlined Champs structure

Published:Tuesday | April 20, 2021 | 12:14 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer
Kingston College’s Blaine Byam clears 2m to win the Class Two Boys High jump event at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Kingston College’s Blaine Byam clears 2m to win the Class Two Boys High jump event at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

This year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) will be scaled down from its usual structure, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The five-day even, which will run from May 11-15 at the National Stadium in St Andrew,...

This year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) will be scaled down from its usual structure, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five-day even, which will run from May 11-15 at the National Stadium in St Andrew, will feature significantly fewer athletes because many schools have had financial difficulties preparing teams to compete, but also because of protocols set for proper social distancing.

Champs Organising Committee Chairman Richard Thompson told The Gleaner that there will be less rounds for each event this year.

“We have significantly reduced the number of rounds for each event, as except for the 100m to 800m, all other events will be straight finals,” he shared.

Thompson said that in the events he mentioned, there will only be a semi-final and final, with the meet set to start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. daily.

He said that for ISSA to get approval, it had to show the Government ways in which it could minimise the number of participants.

NEW MEASURES

“We had to put in protocols to show the plans we had to minimise the crowd over the five days as normally we would have seen over 2,000 athletes competing, but with this new measure, we now have between 800 and 900 competing,” he said. “What we have done is to use the JAAA (Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association) Qualification Trials along with the respective regional meets as an elimination to help reduce the crowd.

“At no stage will we have any crowd of athletes inside the Stadium as once athletes finish their events, they have to exit the Stadium and head for home.”

It is no secret that the financial intake at Champs is used to finance other ISSA sports but Thompson said that this will not be the case this year.

“For us at ISSA, there will be no financial gains from Champs this year,” he said. “But this is secondary this time around as the focus is to have a platform for our student athletes to showcase their talents as we want to provide a wholesome adventure, especially for those in their final year of competition so that they can gain athletics scholarships.

“A survey done recently has shown that not having Champs last year, some $2 billion was lost in athletes not going on scholarships, and we cannot afford for this to happen another year as Champs is all about our athletes.”

There will be no spectators in attendance for this year’s five-day event.

This will also be the first staging of Champs since 2019 as last year’s was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

sports@gleanerjm.com