Fri | Jun 5, 2020

‘Tokyo postponement a double-edged sword’

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2020 | 12:00 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Clarke

Jamaican Olympian Davian Clarke says the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic could be a blessing in disguise for some athletes. However, he warned that to succeed, athletes will have to be focused and motivated.

The former 400 metres specialist, who now coaches (400m and 400m hurdles) at the University of Texas-El Paso, says the lengthy layoff could be good or bad, depending on the mindset and attitude of the athletes going forward.

“For our young athletes, it could be a wonderful opportunity for them to develop, as they would have been one year older and they could get to understand their craft better with time, but for the older athletes, another year could see them getting closer to retirement and they may have to take stock at where they are in their careers, and it could force them to move away from the sport,” said Clarke.

On Monday, 26-year-old Nigerian shot putter Stephen Mozia announced via social media that he was retiring from athletics due to the pushback of the Olympics. Mozia is a three-time African championships bronze medallist who also represented his country at the 2016 Olympics.

Clarke, a member of Jamaica’s 4 x400 metres gold medal-winning team at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in 2003, said those athletes who manage their time well will benefit in the long run, and the evidence will be seen come July next year.

“Athletes will now know that they have over a year to prepare; however, not everybody can stay motivated or focused over that long period. They need to structure their programmes accordingly and still train with intensity because the season is still not over, but they have to be mindful that they don’t slack off and dig themselves into a hole which can be difficult to come out of mentally and physically.

WORK ON WEAK AREAS

“What I would do is to go easy now, maybe give them a little break and work on the weak areas, then restart when you get to the one-year mark,” Clarke, a 4x400m bronze medallist at the 1996 Olympics and three-time World (outdoor) Championships 4x400m silver medallist, added.

In the meantime, Clarke, who has a personal best of 44.83 seconds, a time he did in 2004, made glowing remarks about the country’s quarter-milers, who are expected to come up against stiff competition at next year’s Olympics and the 2022 World Championships.

“Our ladies have always been competitive, and like Shericka (Jackson) did in Doha last year, we have the talent to get us another medal. Our men have been improving with the likes of Terry Thomas and Demish Gaye getting more and more experience and getting better with each day.”