Sun | Sep 19, 2021

‘Don’t jump the gun’ - Riley says getting junior season started more important than focus on Champs qualification structure

Published:Tuesday | February 16, 2021 | 12:18 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Jamaica College’s (JC) Apalos Edwards in action in the Class One Boys long jump at the Purewater/JC/R Danny Williams Track Meet at Ashenheim Stadium at JC in St Andrew on Saturday, January 4, 2020.
Jamaica College’s (JC) Apalos Edwards in action in the Class One Boys long jump at the Purewater/JC/R Danny Williams Track Meet at Ashenheim Stadium at JC in St Andrew on Saturday, January 4, 2020.
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Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association President David Riley says that it is too early to entertain any discussion about any potential changes to the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) qualification format,...

Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association President David Riley says that it is too early to entertain any discussion about any potential changes to the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) qualification format, given the delay to the junior athletics season.

Despite authorisation from the Government that sporting events can resume on a case-by-case basis, the 2021 athletics season is still awaiting approval of COVID-19 protocols to proceed with its schedule. More than 20 events so far, including 11 which were supposed to take place last weekend, had to be postponed since January. With events still awaiting clearance, Riley says that the main focus should be restarting the season before any discussions can be had about qualifying criteria changes.

“I think that’s a little premature, especially [since] we are still in the battle of getting to start. We have to start first,” Riley told The Gleaner.

The 2021 qualifying criteria were agreed on in December. The criteria are the sprints accepting the top two from each regional meet followed by the next best 24 athletes, the hurdles accepting the top 24 islandwide, the top 16 athletes for the distance events and the top 12 across all development and regional championships for field events.

The recent rise in COVID-19 cases led ISSA to push back the date of Champs to the last week in April [April 27 to May 1], abandoning their initial March 23-27 target. ISSA President Keith Wellington confirmed the change and said that there are no plans at the moment to alter the qualification criteria.

MOVING FORWARD WITH PROPOSAL

“In terms of how you qualify for Champs, we have not changed from what we had put forward a couple of months ago,” he said. “What we had proposed about the different numbers for the different events, those are what we are working with.”

Last year’s competition was cancelled because of the pandemic and the new date means that the junior season has a 10-week window to determine this year’s qualifiers. But Riley says that getting the season to start should be the priority.

I wouldn’t even go down that road [discussing potential qualification changes] because a whole lot of people qualified for Champs last year and [there was] no Champs,” he said. “The qualification can’t be the important thing right now.

“[We need] to get the season to start and then we can talk about that.”

The Tyser Mills Classic which took place in December was the first, and to date, only junior track meet to be held since the cancellation of Champs last year.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com