‘We are not dictators’ - … Quarrie lauds relaxed approach to World Champs camp, expects successful showing in Doha
With Jamaica’s pre-World Championships training camp wrapping up in Doha yesterday ahead of Friday’s start of the championships here, technical leader Donald Quarrie expressed satisfaction with its productivity and pointed to what he termed as a “more understanding” approach to the camp.
Several athletes were given exemptions from the camp by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and others were allowed to arrive a little later in a departure from the hard-line approach taken by the administration in the past, when the exercise was deemed to be mandatory for all Jamaican athletes.
In fact, the IAAF had to intervene in 2009 ahead of the Berlin World Championships after the JAAA threatened to ban several athletes, including former 100m world-record holder Asafa Powell and Beijing 2008 gold-medal winners Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Melaine Walker, after their no-show at a training camp in Nuremburg.
However, Quarrie, the 1976 Olympic 200m champion, said that a more reasonable approach was necessary and believes that even greater collaboration must take place ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo so that the interests of all stakeholders will be met.
“Things have been going very well. I think that the fact that athletes came in – we were not as strict as before with regards to people coming into the camp, we were a little more understanding – so when you enter the camp, you did not enter with any animosity. Everyone was quite content and got involved with the programme that we have as far as training schedules and accommodation and so far is concerned. It is looking much better than we anticipated a few months ago,” Quarrie told The Gleaner.
“We don’t want to have a dictatorship attitude. We want each athlete to feel that they are well prepared and ready to go, especially with the climatic situation here. We are glad that most of the athletes came in early,” he added before noting the importance of having a camp as it relates to building camaraderie, preparing an environment for less experienced athletes to be comfortable ahead of competition, tracking the physical condition of the athletes, and, of course, technical tuning, specifically where relays are concerned.
“It’s important; there are pros and cons about that. Sometimes, depending on when someone comes in, they can be suffering from an injury and you would never know, so there is also that time limit that you do not give too much leeway but enough where you can see that the athlete is in shape to compete and that there are no injuries that you have to worry about, so that’s one good thing about it (the camp),” said Quarrie.
“We are going to sit down and look at how best it will be for individuals, and I think reaching out to the various coaches and managers and athletes will be important because getting feedback is important. If everyone knows that they are a part of a system that is being created for their well-being, I think it will eliminate that extra stress and that energy will be put towards their training and effort,” he added.
Meanwhile, Quarrie believes that the exercise was a successful one and is now looking forward to strong performances from the country’s athletes at the September 27 to October 6 championships, which will take place inside the Khalifa International Stadium.
ADJUSTING TO THE CLIMATE
“I must say that the first couple of days were so hot, we thought we wouldn’t make it, but we have adjusted to the climate, and everyone is working out quite well. There are no complaints about the heat, and I think it’s a good thing that we actually came here early,” said Quarrie.
“With a few days to go before the championships, everyone is looking good, and I think we should start off with a bang,” he added before sharing his message to the team members.
“We had a meeting, and I told them to get out there and perform as well as they can. You may get a medal, you may not, but when you leave the track, you must know that you gave it everything because what happens this year will help to build on next year and the future in terms of how you compete and approach these major games,” added Quarrie, who, in his time as an athlete, also won two Olympic silver and a bronze, as well as six gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.