Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Coaches sorry for western fans, happy with revamped Champs schedule

Published:Wednesday | March 30, 2022 | 12:14 AMKavarly Arnold/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

TRACK AND FIELD stakeholders in western Jamaica say while they understand that fans from the region will be deprived of their usual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championship (Champs) experience with the organisers moving the 100-metre finals to Wednesday, the well-being of the athletes must come first.

Last week, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) announced that the event, which usually pulls fans on a Friday evening, would be run on the second evening of the competition, Wednesday, April 6.

Marvin James, coach of St Elizabeth Technical High School, said while he sympathises with the ardent track and field fans in rural Jamaica, especially westerners who will miss out on what was part of their Champs experience, he welcomes the change.

“As a coach, I really like the schedule because it gives the athletes more [of a] rest period,” James said. “I really feel for the track-and-field-loving fans in the west. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. They would come up on a Friday after the busy workweek to watch the finals.”

“We have been lobbying for this change for some time. It is really difficult to ask an athlete who doubles to run all the rounds to close out the 100m on a Friday and then come back for the 200m on a Saturday, plus relays,” he added.

Ray Harvey, meet organiser of the Western Relays and Albert Ferguson, organiser of the Western Primary Championships, say rural track and field fans are going to have to adjust to the new schedule that he believes is here to stay for the athletes’ benefit.

PRIORITY

“They (fans) are going to make an adjustment. We cannot put the well-being of our athletes in second place. We have to put the athletes first. This is a much more acceptable schedule as far as the athletes are concerned,” said Harvey.

“The people in the west are more inclined to attend Champs for the marquee events on a Friday and Saturday. The organisers would have carefully analysed and decided to make the change in the best interest of the athletes. I also believe the organisers want to push support for other events outside of the 100 and 200 metres,” said Ferguson.

Stephen Smith, president of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA), said he understands the difficulty for western fans, who have to navigate the workweek but believes the new schedule will prevent burnout of the athletes.

“The athletes are what matter most. While the spectators are important, we have to protect our athletes so that they are not burdened or burnt out by the schedule. I think it is a good idea to fit the schedule as best as possible so the athletes can benefit more,” Smith said.

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