Sun | Sep 19, 2021

‘Huge setback’

Jamaica’s head coach cites disadvantage over training-venue access

Published:Sunday | July 25, 2021 | 12:11 AMAndre Lowe - Sports Editor

World and National 100 metres record holder, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, carries her luggage as the contingent of Jamaican athletes and coaches arrived at the Olympic Village in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, July 23.
World and National 100 metres record holder, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, carries her luggage as the contingent of Jamaican athletes and coaches arrived at the Olympic Village in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, July 23.
Head coach of Jamaica’s Olympic team, Wilson
Head coach of Jamaica’s Olympic team, Wilson

TOKYO, Japan:

The frosty relations between the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) look set to sink into a deeper chill, after the bulk of Jamaica’s athletes were left without access to a training venue for two days.

The assigned facilities, which opened to the athletes yesterday, were unavailable when the majority of the athletics team touched down in Tokyo on Friday, with no back-up venue in place, despite prior notice from the organisers.

JAAA treasurer and current team manager, Ludlow Watts, told The Sunday Gleaner that his organisation was told that the Tokyo 2020 Local Organising Committee’s assigned training venues - Olympic Stadium, Edogawa City Track and YoyogiParkAtletics, would not be available for usage five days before the athletes’ departure for Japan. This information was shared with athletes, some of whom managed to make other plans for their training programmes over the last two days.

Watts, however, noted that, with travel and other arrangements well in place by the time the news was received, it was difficult to reschedule the athletes’ arrival into Japan and that the expectation was that the JOA’s management team, which was already in Tokyo, would make alternate arrangements for the athletes.

“We were made aware about five days before departure, but tickets were booked and plans were already in place, and, moreover, we expected that the JOA’s advance team could have found some way out,” said Watts, in reference to the JOA’s overall management responsibility for all of Jamaica’s teams at the Olympic Games.

Alternative venue

Watts, however, did not say if there were any discussions between the JOA and the JAAA about finding an alternative venue for the athletes for the period that the Tokyo 2020 venue would be unavailable.

Jamaica were not the only nation affected by the closure of the official Olympic Games training facilities, with some teams such as Great Britain having to privately secure an alternative facility for their athletes.

“Jamaica is not the only country affected. However, it appears that some countries conducted training camps in Japan, which will clearly give them a competitive advantage,” Watts added.

The JOA recently abandoned plans for a pre-Olympics training camp in the Tottori prefecture, after the rate of COVID-19 infections began to rise in the country.

Extremely disappointed

Meanwhile, Head Coach Maurice Wilson was extremely disappointed with the situation and believes it has left the Jamaicans at a disadvantage heading into the start of the athletics competition on July 30 (July 29 Jamaica time).

“The fact that the facility is not open is a huge setback because what has been happening is that our competitors, our main competitors, have been able to train. The most important part of an athlete and a coaches’ arsenal is their training days, especially going into a major competition, as they are able to tweak their programme accordingly. Especially for those athletes who are suffering from injury, every single day counts,” Wilson said.

“It may appear to be nothing, but even a rest day is of extreme importance and, therefore, this in my estimation is an issue because they (athletes) have not trained for two days and they have travelled for one day plus the need to recover. So you’re talking about four days. But it is what it is and we are hoping that we can overcome this situation and we are anticipating starting training on the 25th,” he added.

There has been some tension between the JOA and the JAAA over the past few weeks, with the JOA recently having to clarify its process after JAAA president, Garth Gayle, was conspicuously missing from the list of accredited officials for the Games.

Gayle had given up his post as a JOA director, having not sought re-election at the JOA’s recent extraordinary annual general meeting.

In a release, the JOA stated its support of the JAAA, including expenses related to the Olympic Games and that Gayle was not named on the list of officials for accreditation which was submitted by the JAAA.

The track and field competition gets started in Tokyo on July 30 (July 29 Jamaica time).