Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Coaching cut for Olympics?

JAAA underlines importance of technical support for athletes at Games

Published:Wednesday | June 30, 2021 | 12:07 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
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With restrictions in Japan threatening to affect the size of Jamaica’s technical delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Maurice Wilson, who is expected to lead Jamaica’s coaching panel to the Games, is warning that the allocation for support...

With restrictions in Japan threatening to affect the size of Jamaica’s technical delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Maurice Wilson, who is expected to lead Jamaica’s coaching panel to the Games, is warning that the allocation for support personnel must remain intact, for Jamaica’s athletes to have success in this year’s show-piece event.

While there has been no attempt to cut the number of athletes competing at the event, Japan has asked countries to limit the number of government representatives and other VIPs, to minimise risk with the COVID-19 pandemic still creating major challenges for the host.

Wilson noted that with the cancellation of the pre-Olympic camp and the uncertainty of the conditions in Tokyo, these concessions must not be made to the athletes’ support personnel for the Games, pointing out that a minimum of six coaches and four massage specialists will be required to give the Jamaicans the best chance to maximise their opportunities for medals at the July 23 to August 8 Games.

“Because we do not know what the conditions are like and what is happing, based on my assessment, we cannot have less than six coaches,” Wilson told The Gleaner. “Because events take place early in the morning, during the day or later in the afternoons. So after a period of time, we need to give persons the opportunity to overcome the fatigue. We also need them to recuperate just like athletes do and we have to cover all the different events.”

Six coaches were named to Jamaica’s 59-member athletics team to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Wilson warned that the concessions should not be made within the technical, medical and support teams, as this can have a significant negative effect on the performances of the athletes.

“One group (of athletes) can give at least six or seven medals. So a country with 60 athletes, to give them the opportunity to perform at their maximum, also needs at least four massage therapists. We cannot under no circumstances go below four (massage therapists) and expect to get the performance that is necessary,” Wilson stated.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Garth Gayle says that they are currently in discussions with the Jamaica Olympic Association to see how best they can get a suitable number of persons on the management team, given the constraints of the team locator process, used to determine the number of officials a country can send to the Games.

“While we would have needed more (staff), as we would be having greater flexibility for World Athletics managed events, bearing in mind the pandemic, we are having to work within that (Olympic) set of guidelines,” Gayle said. “As we speak, the selection committee is reviewing the personnel in order to arrive at a number and team officials that can best take care of our team.”

Meanwhile, former JAAA President Dr Warren Blake said that the demands of the technical leader and head coach limits their capacity to coach and added that increasing the complement will help to ease the physical and mental demands.

“The technical leader and head coach have an administrative role to play so they can’t get tied up too much in coaching as such. We have to try and get a sizeable group of coaches. I would support such a cause for more coaches, we need the numbers, because it is physically demanding,” Blake said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com