JAAA president cites difficult 2021 season for track and field’s non-participation at Junior Pan Am
JAMAICA ATHLETICS Administration Association (JAAA) president, Garth Gayle, says that a challenging 2021 season, which included COVID-19 issues, resulted in them declining to field a team for the Junior Pan American Games currently under way in...
JAMAICA ATHLETICS Administration Association (JAAA) president, Garth Gayle, says that a challenging 2021 season, which included COVID-19 issues, resulted in them declining to field a team for the Junior Pan American Games currently under way in Colombia.
While the athletic programme of the Games is scheduled to begin today, Jamaica will not be participating in the inaugural competition.
Gayle cited difficulties experienced during the 2021 track and field season, which included a late start to the campaign, among reasons why coaches were reluctant in sending their junior athletes to compete.
“We were faced with a lot of challenges throughout the year, a short window of preparation and (the junior athletes) did themselves, their schools and the country proud. And as a result, many of the coaches were not inclined to have their athletes go any further,” Gayle told The Gleaner. “And so the association, under careful consideration and with other stakeholders, did not send a team to this year’s Games.”
The Games, which were originally scheduled for September, were pushed back to November because of the pandemic.
Track and field’s local 2021 season got government approval in late February, with the junior athletes managing to compete in this year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) in May, as well as the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, in August.
However, Gayle said that they were non-committal about their participation given the potential clashes in their background preparation for the upcoming junior season.
“The time of the staging of the event is in the off-season and so we were very tentative. We did not at any point give a clear indication of the likelihood of our participation,” Gayle said.
The uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic caused Champs to be pushed back to May and the World Under-20 team suffered an outbreak of the virus while in Kenya, resulting in athletes having to remain in the country until they recovered and were cleared to return home.
Hydel High School’s head coach, Corey Bennett, says that while participation in the Junior Pan-Am’s would have been ideal for those who wanted another opportunity after the World Under-20s and the cancellation of this year’s Carifta Games, contingencies would have been necessary for track programmes to be extended and the concerns regarding this would have made participation difficult.
“They would have had to have gotten enough notice to say (we are going to compete in this type) of competition, so please prepare accordingly,” Bennett said.
“I think there is always value in competing. There is always something to be gained through competition. I’m not sure that the timing of the event would have been suited for track and field in Jamaica. Most persons would be just entering their general preparation in their programme. The timing would have been a little off.”
With the next Junior Pan American Games scheduled for 2025, Gayle said that any consideration for participation has to be suitable to the domestic calendar to satisfy all stakeholders.
“The schedule and the timelines are always important to us. Some events we will be able to plan early and some events do create more challenges and in this case the pandemic, along with several other considerations, caused the non-participation of athletics (in Colombia),” Gayle said.