Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Oral Tracey | Finally, some common sense at the JAAA

Published:Monday | August 19, 2019 | 12:10 AM

It was never a case the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) could win in the public’s eye.

Not when one of our top athletes, in Danielle Williams, was able to summon the will, skill and desire to rise like the phoenix and become the national record holder and world leader in her event after that high-profile and now foolhardy disqualification in the final of the sprint hurdles at the National Senior Championships, which was, in effect, the national trials, for the most frivolous of infractions, with mitigating factors, to boot.

The whispers had been ­making the rounds that reconciliation was in the air. So news that the 2015 World champion is now eligible for selection to the Jamaican team for next month’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, was hardly surprising.

What was indeed, surprising was how precisely the JAAA eventually read from the ‘common-sense script’.

NULL AND VOID

Apparently, some egos were kept in check as the JAAA demigods admitted that the women’s 100m hurdles final had been declared null and void and that therefore Williams’ disqualification could not stand, given that the race was never completed after being publicly declared null and void.

For clarity and context, the term ‘null and void ‘means “cancelled, invalid, having no legal force or no legal effect, to be considered as if did not exist”. Logically, no one can be disqualified from an event that did not exist.

The fact that the race was declared null and void meant that the JAAA, in what they thought was their wisdom, announced a new criterion for the selection of the athletes for this particular event – the top three Jamaicans as reflected by world rankings as at August 16, 2019, providing those athletes have achieved the minimum qualifying standard.

It was in that declaration that the governing body inadvertently cleared the way for Danielle Williams to be selected, even if she does not win the Diamond League wild-card spot. It stands to reason that based on the new criterion, any athlete, whether it be Danielle Williams or a competitor, who was eliminated in the semi-final, even an athlete who didn’t attend the championships – any Jamaican athlete who, via their performances, ended up in the top three in the world ­ranking as at August 16, must have been eligible for selection. It was perhaps only the stubborn and self-righteous egotists who could not see that pending reality.

The fact that they have now extended the actual announcement of the selectees until September 6 is an index of a hopeful wish by the JAAA that they will have the best of both worlds, in that Danielle Williams will secure the wild-card entry, which would see her going to Doha along with the three duly selected athletes, with no one being left aggrieved.

It would have been great to be a fly on the wall in that stormy meeting of the JAAA executive when this decision was being made. One Mr Ludlow Watts must have been fuming, with his enlarged ego bursting at the seams. The JAAA treasurer, who, in his capacity as chief starter in those immediate moments when Williams committed that minor indiscretion, could have acted with common sense by simply warning the field and restarting the race instead of going the route of pomposity. He would have suffered no sanctions or harm except a small bruise to his smelting ego, and all this unnecessary and embarrassing confusion and controversy would have been avoided.

We hope that this outcome to this unfortunate fiasco will indeed humble Mr Watts and others of like mind into understanding that athletes are the stars of sport and not administrators, and that the interest of the individual is never more important than the interest of the greater good.