Olympian Donald Quarrie believes the current administration of the Jamaica Administrative Athletic Association (JAAA) has been stagnant for too long and there is an urgent need for change if Jamaica’s track and field is to avoid falling behind the rest of the world.

Quarrie, 69, is campaigning to become the next president of the association when votes are cast at the JAAA Annual General Meeting in late November. Incumbent president Dr. Warren Blake has said that he will not seek re-election and General Secretary Garth Gayle is said to be favoured to replace him.

That has not gone down well with Quarrie, who believes it is time for change.

“It’s the same people who are going to be in. The same deck of cards, only shuffled a different way,” the six-time Commonwealth champion said, indicating that the current torpidity is proving to be detrimental to Jamaican athletics.

An indication of the stagnation, Quarrie said, was the JAAA’s inability to capitalize on the success eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt, when he was at the peak of his powers.

“It’s not even about taking advantage, we didn’t know how,” Quarrie declared on Saturday during an interview on Sportsnation Live on Nationwide Radio in Kingston.

“We didn’t have the personnel to do it.”

Quarrie revealed that there was a plan was in place to capitalize on the remarkable success Jamaica was experiencing just over a decade ago when athletes like Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Yohan Blake, were the best in the world in what was arguably the most dominant period of the country’s track and field history.

However, that plan died along with then president Howard Aris.

“I was on the board up to 2011 after Howard passed. At that period there was a move to do so but Howard passed. After that, everything stood still and we never reached out to get the experts who could market the association, experts who could guide us,” the 1976 Olympic champion said.

“Instead, we were holding to something that had great value but we couldn’t see it and we didn’t capitalize on it. That is why we are in the position we are now.”

Quarrie said his love and dedication to Jamaica’s athletics is what has motivated him to try and make a difference.

 

 

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) officially opened the doors of its new office during a ceremony held at its new location at 1 Ballater Avenue, Kingston 10 on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant athletes worldwide cannot earn from the different meets all around the world and Jamaican track & field is no different.

Unlike footballers, who get paid a salary, athletes, outside of their endorsement contracts, depend solely on performing for their bread.

With sport shut down, these athletes cannot earn but the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association will not be able to help them.

“With the resources that we have, we are just not able to compensate athletes for lost income,” said Blake in an interview with local newspaper, The Gleaner.

“We have spoken about it at the local level, and we do not have the resources to do so.”

Blake painted a grim forecast for the athletes, saying that based on the way they get paid, there would be no making up for lost income.

“I am not sure they will be able to make up for the lost earnings because they are paid to appear at meets, and if they win, there is prize money,” said Blake.

Thus far, the Jamaican government has not included athletes in its allocation of J$25 billion earmarked for COVID-19 relief, however, Blake is not opposed to speaking to the country’s relevant ministries about providing relief.

The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships that is scheduled for the National Stadium from March 24-28 could be held without spectators.

That is according to Dr Warren Blake, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

Blake, a medical practitioner since 1976, said that this could happen if the feared coronavirus that is sweeping the globe reaches Jamaica. He was asked about the likely impact of the virus on Champs and the upcoming Jamaica International Invitational Meet during an interview on trackalerts.com live stream of the Carifta Trials on Sunday at the National Stadium.

“It (the coronavirus) is going to have a negative impact on events if/when it comes to Jamaica. If it comes before these events, the health authorities will have to sit down, look at the number of cases, where they are, and take the serious decision whether to allow a crowd like the size of Champs to come together, to put 35,000 people into our National Stadium when some of them might be infected,” Blake said.

He added that “This is really going to be a watch and see (situation). It could be possible that Champs could go ahead without spectators in the stands because of the danger of putting large crowds of people together.

“It’s hard to say what will happen but it (the assessment) has to be on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to a cut-off point then the hard decision will have to be made”.

Apart from the thousands of Jamaicans who flock to the stadium each year to watch the five-day spectacle unfold, a sizeable foreign media contingent religiously covers the event.

Blake also suggested that upcoming track and field events in the United States are likely to be affected in large part because of a “lack of testing” in that country which he asserted has caused the virus to now be “out of hand."

“They (the US authorities) are not calling it so, but I can tell you that the outbreak is now out-of-hand in America,” Blake insisted.

According to the JAAA boss, in New York, where a state of emergency was declared on Saturday, “400 doctors and nurses have placed themselves in self-isolation because they have come in contact with coronavirus cases."

“The maxim is that if you test, you’ll find them (coronavirus cases) and America has not been testing,” Blake stated.

The veteran medical doctor noted that it is estimated that if you have one untested individual carrying the virus, that person has the potential to infect over 3,000 new cases. “So I think that it’s really out-of-hand in America and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches Jamaica."

Regarding the Tokyo Olympics, which is scheduled to get underway in July and which is increasingly doubtful, Blake said he has been encouraging athletes to continue training.

He noted that if the event is cancelled, professional athletes would be hit hard.

“All the athletes I’ve spoken to have expressed concern because that’s how they earn their living. They’re professional athletes so they’re going all out to prepare themselves as if the Olympics is taking place and they’re concerned that their preparation might come to nought."

After an absence of a year, the Jamaica International Invitational (JII) will return to the track and field calendar in 2020 as a part of the World Athletics Continental Series.

 However, the meet will carry a silver designation in the World Athletics Continental World Series launched earlier year.

The Continental World Series will replace the World Challenge events as the second tier of competition under the Diamond League, and the four events that have been controversially cut, either partially or completely, from the latter competition for next season will have senior status within the new format.

The four events - triple jump, discus, 200 metres and 3,000m steeplechase - will be part of the core events in the top, or Gold level of the Tour, which will also have Silver and Bronze levels.

The JII meet was first held in 2004 and for eight years was a World Challenge meet, one tier down from the prestigious Diamond League designation. However, in 2019, due largely to financial constraints, the meet was cancelled.

“It is with regret that we inform you that due to budget issues the 2019 staging of the Jamaica International Invitational IAAF World Challenge Meeting has been cancelled,” a statement on the meeting’s website said.

However, Dr Warren Blake, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) said then that he was confident the meet would return in 20020. On Friday, he confirmed that the meet would be back.

According to the JII website, the meet is set for May 2, 2020.

 “There will be a meet this year,” said Dr Blake who added that Athletes’ Liaison Donald Quarrie has been assembling a quality field of athletes to participate at the meet.

However, the meet will be taken down a peg, as it will only have a silver designation among the meets that fall under the umbrella of the Continental World Series.

Dr Blake explained that following the debacle that led to the cancellation of the meet in 2019, earlier this year, World Athletics had sought assurances that there would not be a repeat of what occurred in 2019. They demanded a written guarantee that funding would be in place for this year’s meet.

However, the local organisers missed the deadline by a few days, which resulted in the meet missing the gold-level designation now enjoyed by the Racers Grand Prix set to run off in June.

Dr Blake said World Athletics will be reviewing the Continental Series at the end of the season and they are hopeful that the JII will obtain a gold designation going forward.

A press conference to announce details pertaining to the 2020 Jamaica International Invitational is set to be held sometime in March.

 

 

 

 

Dr Warren Blake, president of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) is revealing that he plans to launch an investigation into reports of the potential move of the young Jamaican sprinter Sachin Dennis to Bahrain.

Jamaica’s men did not enjoy their last outing at the IAAF World Championships of Athletics in Doha, Qatar but the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) is already looking into the fixes for the situation.

Jamaica’s men weren’t just woeful individually, they were also bad as a unit.

The team didn’t even manage to make the final of the 4x100 metres in Doha, an event for which the Jamaicans hold the World Record.

“We are hoping to have a few relay camps where we will have all our relay teams competing,” said Donald Quarrie, who represented the JAAA as the team’s technical leader in Doha.

In addition, the technical director is intent on getting the teams some live action.

“Definitely the Penn Relays; we are also looking at the Mount Sac Relays and two or three meets in Europe,” said Quarrie.

One of the things that the JFF official, former Olympic and World Championship medallist, pointed out was that the JAAA needed more help than they were getting from the private sector.

“These are areas in which we will need added assistance and we can’t just rely on the Government and the JAAA spending everything they have for the athletes.”

The Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake is now in full support of a government to government agreement with Kenya to exchange technical expertise in track and field.

Kenya, long known as giants of middle and long-distance running, has agreed to help Jamaica in that area of the track, an area they have had little to no impact. Jamaica, though, have been masters of sprinting, making an impact where a tiny nation probably wouldn’t be expected to. There, Jamaica has promised to help Kenya, who have recently begun to produce sprinters of fair talent, but have yet to grab real success at the global stage.

According to Blake, the Jamaican government and the JAAA are on the same page, despite the fact that they did not liaise on the initial agreement.

“Even though we were not included in the initial process, it is part of the thing that we are trying to do, which is broaden the scope of Jamaican track and field as that is the only way we are going to stay on top for the long term,” Blake said. “Veronica Campbell-Brown’s statue will be unveiled on Sunday at the Stadium, so I am hoping I get a chance to raise it with her (Sports Minister Olivia Grange). If not, next week I will to do that,” he said.

“We haven’t excelled in distance running. We have had occasional athletes who have performed reasonably in the area like Kemoy Campbell, Aisha Praught[-Leer] and Natoya Goule, but we are not consistent in putting out middle- and long-distance runners.”

According to Blake, the process must not be rushed and it will take time for Jamaica to get a foothold into middle and long-distance sprinting.

Blake explained that this project was attempted in 2012 but with little to no success and asked for patience this time around if the exchange was to bare fruit.

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