Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Local camp an option, says JAAA boss

Published:Saturday | June 19, 2021 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Garth Gayle.
Garth Gayle.

With the pre-Olympic camp in Japan cancelled, Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Garth Gayle says that a local-based camp could be an option for the athletics team as they make their final preparations for the Tokyo...

With the pre-Olympic camp in Japan cancelled, Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Garth Gayle says that a local-based camp could be an option for the athletics team as they make their final preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) announced the decision on Wednesday to abandon the customary camp for the nation’s Olympians, which was set to take place this year in the Japanese prefecture of Tottori. However, the Tottori Prefectural Government advised the JOA that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in Japan imposing restrictions on all local governments hosting pre-Olympic camps. While noting that the current COVID-19 situation is not as serious as it is in other regions, the prefectural government said that they could not guarantee a safe and secure camp under the current circumstances.

With the final team set to be selected after next week’s National Senior and Junior Championships, Gayle said that staying home to prepare for the Games is only one of the scenarios which are being explored, with the various options being discussed with technical leader Maurice Wilson and Racers Track Club president Glen Mills.

“That is a possibility. That is a very strong possibility. Our technical leader Maurice Wilson and Glen Mills have been working with us. We have been having training sessions in relay passes for our men’s 4x100m team and so we are going to widen that,” Gayle told The Gleaner. “There is a greater cooperation that I have been able to forge with our coaches and I believe that can be greater strengthened. And we will have our athletes in the best environment for them to go to Tokyo and perform.”

The cancellation of the camp comes even as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Thursday the downgrading of the state of emergency in Tokyo and six other areas starting next week. The new measures will last until July 11, 12 days before the start of the Olympics.

UPCOMING MEETING

Gayle said that a meeting with his administration is upcoming on the matter, as well as with the JOA to see how best they can craft a suitable alternative from this setback on their road to Tokyo.

“We will meet with our competitions commission. We will also, following that meeting, be speaking with the JOA,” Gayle said.

Sports Minister Olivia Grange said that despite not having the Tottori camp, there will be continued support for the athletes at the local level, which includes the Athletes Assistance Programme which has given Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls financial help.

“The cancellation of the camp is a disappointment but anything that will make sure our athletes are safe takes priority,” Grange said. “As a result, we are doing all we can to give our athletes support here, support in terms of mental resilience as well as financial support, so they can be ready.”

The National Junior and Senior Championships, also known as ‘Trials’, will be held from June 24-27 at the National Stadium.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com