Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Changing of the guard - Gayle urges patience from Jamaican track and field fans

Published:Tuesday | March 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter
Jamaica's Usain Bolt crossing the line first to win the men's 100m final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many have argued that Bolt's subsequent retirement from the track and field has signalled the end of Jamaica's 'golden era' in the sport.
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With performances at the last two major global championships not reflecting the high standard the country has become accustomed to since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, track and field fans have been buzzing to see which team Jamaica will turn up at the XXI Commonwealth Games, which is due in less than a month.

However, honorary secretary of the Jamaica Athletic Administration Association (JAAA), Garth Gayle, is asking the public to be patient with the athletes as they continue to seek glory for the country.

"The thing is that we have become spoilt. Making a global final is still a great performance," Gayle said. "We need Jamaica to be patient with our athletes as they seek glory for themselves and for the country."

Since the Beijing Games, Jamaica has been averaging over 11 medals at global championships, with sprinting legend Usain Bolt producing at least two per championships. Now that Bolt has retired from the sport, and prolific medal winners like Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are at the back-end of their careers, there have been concern among fans that Jamaica has come to the end of a great era.

While stating that Jamaica's track and field is still in its prime, Gayle said that is it quite normal for performances to fall when the cycle of athletes changes.

"What we are going through is the changing of the guard, and as athletes change, there will be the rise and fall of a country. But we haven't fallen, because when you look at Jamaica's place within the country rankings, we are in the top 10," Gayle said. "When you look at the quantity of persons making it into finals at world events, it speaks volumes."

He added: "We see athletes doing well in areas where we do not normally get medals - like the triple jump women at the World Indoor Championships and the shot put women."

Gayle is also confident in the quality of athletes who have made themselves available for the Commonwealth Games.

"When you look at the athletes we have on our team, I am telling you that we are going there to compete and to compete aggressively, and our athletes will do us proud,' Gayle said.

akino.ming@gleanerjm.com