The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has received approval from the relevant government authorities to stage a series of competitive meets in order to allow junior and senior athletes the opportunity to sharpen up.

In the main, local track and field events have not been held on the island since March of last year, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  The government recently announced plans to re-start sporting events on a case by case basis and the event, called the JAAA Qualification Trial Series, will be the first approved for the track and field local governing body.

The trials will be on February 27, held across several venues across the island, and have specific events on offer.  Among the events on offer will be the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 2000m SC, 3000m, 5000m, 70mH, 80mH, 100mH, 110mH, 400mH, 4x100m, 4x400m, 4x200m, 1600m SMR, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin.

Athlete’s wishing to compete in the meet must sign a COVID-19 waiver, with waivers signed by parents for athletes under-18.  The meets will feature no spectator with strict COVID-19 protocols in full effect at all the venues.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has sought to assure the island’s athletes that it is doing everything possible to facilitate the safe resumption of track and field across the island.

For the most part, all types of track and field competitions across the island have been shuttered since last year, as part of efforts to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

In order to resume, sports administrations must submit a series of plans that illustrate how it is that sporting events will comply with the strict protocols set out by the goverment's Disaster Risk Management orders.

The JAAA, who have submitted the documents, is confident they have put together a strong proposal and pointed to the fact that the proposal has been shared with other North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) members, who are expected to adopt several of the recommendations.

Among the organisations proposals are the provision of COVID protocol marshals, trained by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to oversee competitions and training; hosted sensitisation sessions with coaches, team managers, and athletes, a guide for meet organisers, and a team manual for competitors.

According to the JAAA, they are yet to be given a response from the authorities but have in the meantime urged athletes to continue to prepare for the upcoming season and to continue following the existing protocols.

 

Three-time Olympian Michael Frater said the new administration of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), plans to engage the country’s athletes in a move to improve relations between the governing body and its primary stakeholders.

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 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.

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.”

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