Sun | Jan 20, 2019

JAAA boss sees bright days ahead

Published:Friday | January 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/ Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Ronald Levy (right) and Hansle Parchment celebrate with the national flag after capturing gold and silver, respectively, in the men’s 110 metres hurdles final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
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Jamaica performed so well at last year's major track and field meets at the junior and senior levels, and those results have given Dr Warren Blake, president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, a positive outlook. He expects more good results and is especially keen to watch the nation's hurdlers in the championship seasons to come.

With the World Championships in Doha set to start on September 27, Blake envisions the hurdling events as a possible sweet spot for Jamaica.

"We have quite a strong contingent of hurdlers at all levels and at all distances," he noted.

Mindful that Jamaica won the men's 110-metre hurdles and the women's 400-metre hurdles at the Commonwealth Games last year, he predicted, "I think we're going to be really dominant in that event in the future."

Those titles went to Ronald Levy and Janieve Russell, respectively, but the Jamaica line-up to the World Championships could also include reigning 110 hurdles champion Omar McLeod, Commonwealth, runner-up Hansle Parchment World Under-20 champion and record holder Damion Thomas, and 2017 World 400m hurdles bronze medallist Ristananna Tracey.

In reference to growth in the throws and jumps seen in 2018, Blake confronted the concern many fans had following the retirement of the incomparable Usain Bolt.

"I said to people, 'We might not be dominant in the sprints as we were, but we have spread our wings a bit and we are still going to be dominant and we're going to be getting the medals'," Blake said during last weekend's Jamaica College Invitational meet.

Last year saw Jamaica win the men's discus and the women's shot put at the Commonwealth Games for the first time through Fedrick Dacres and Danniel Thomas-Dodd. In addition, Kimberly Williams defended her triple jump title. There were also encouraging results in the men's long jump among both seniors and juniors.

In addition, Jamaica won four events at the World Under-20 Championships, with a sprint double by Briana Williams, a discus victory for Kai Chang, and Thomas' win in the sprint hurdles.

There was a historic first for Jamaica at those junior championships as schoolboy Wayne Pinnock won the bronze medal in the long jump. Never before had the island garnered a top-three finish in that event.

The JAAA president is working to finalise a location for a pre-World Championships camp.

"We're still having difficulty making contact with the person in Oman," he reported of an ongoing effort to have the camp in that country on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. "We have written e-mails," Blake candidly revealed, "but we're not getting any response, so we're going to be really starting to work out a Plan B."

Beyond Doha, Blake is hoping to bolster development in hurdling through a plan that will help schools. "I'm trying to put a plan in to get more equipment to all the high schools so that hurdlers don't just come from Kingston," he said.

He recalled the story of a recent World Youth team candidate using tyres as hurdles. "Something like that in this day and age should not happen. He should have proper hurdles to hurdle over, so we're working on a plan to get hurdles to most of the high schools in Jamaica," he affirmed.