Mon | May 25, 2020

Oral Tracey | Give Dyke a national role

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 12:23 AM
Tina Clayton (second left) of Edwin Allen High wins the Class Two Girls 200m final in 23.57 seconds ahead of Hydel High’s Shenese Walker (left), Dejanea Oakley (centre) of Clarendon College, Hydel’s Machaeda Linton (second right), and Edwin Allen’s Shenequa Vassell at the Digicel Central Championships at the G.C. Foster College in Spanish Town, St Catherine, last Wednesday.
Tina Clayton (second left) of Edwin Allen High wins the Class Two Girls 200m final in 23.57 seconds ahead of Hydel High’s Shenese Walker (left), Dejanea Oakley (centre) of Clarendon College, Hydel’s Machaeda Linton (second right), and Edwin Allen’s Shenequa Vassell at the Digicel Central Championships at the G.C. Foster College in Spanish Town, St Catherine, last Wednesday.

Edwin Allen High School are set to begin the defence of their ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) title in another few weeks. The school based in Frankfield, Clarendon, will be looking to make it a stunning seven consecutive wins and eighth overall in the era of head coach Michael Dyke.

Under the astute guidance of Dyke, Edwin Allen has produced some super talent over the years, both on the track and in the field. It is, however, fair to say that the superior quality of the sprinters in those light-blue colours has become the trademark of this spectacular run of success.

In contextualising Dyke’s returns at the high-school level, it could be credibly posited that the rate of transition from junior potential to successful senior professionals of his outstanding young female sprinters has not been anywhere near commensurate with the level of promise displayed at Champs over the past decade.

The idea engulfed me that the skill set and expertise of coach Dyke should be better and directly utilised for the wider national good. Why would I say this? The marauding dominance of the Edwin Allen Class Two quartet of Serena Cole, Tina Clayton, Brandy Hall, and Tia Clayton, who (in that order) clocked a breathtaking 43.80 seconds in the sprint relays at the Central Championships last week, is one example. Another is the impressive form of marquee sprinter Kevona Davis, against the backdrop of the exceptional level of talent contained in this group, and in others before.

His knack of spotting, nurturing, and developing young female sprint talent is incomparable and should be channelled into a national structure to facilitate his exceptional qualities. Dyke has been at Edwin Allen for approximately two decades, and it’s probably time for him to take up a higher calling. Something in the realm of a national high-performance centre funded by the Government of Jamaica, maybe in association with the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and the private sector would make sense.

SUPPORT STAFF AMD TOOLS

Make Dyke the coach with special and specific responsibility for our national female youth sprint programme. Give him the support staff and other tools he needs to use the Edwin Allen blueprint on a national scale. Strategically, the temptation of spreading his responsibilities too wide should be avoided. Keep Dyke locked into that young female sprint zone, where he has been successfully tried and proven.

It would be expected that he would use his extensive scouting network to get the best youngsters into this national high performance centre, set programmes aimed at facilitating their short- to medium-term development, even while they are still within the traditional high school system. The fundamental difference being that the day-to-day programmes and preparations would not be geared at Champs, but more at successful and lucrative senior careers. Dyke would be the foundation builder in that wider process.

This issue of his remuneration and the logistics and specificity of his tasks should be streamlined to ensure that he puts his professional all into this new role like he is doing at Edwin Allen. This would be a totally revolutionary move aimed at ensuring that fewer of the genuinely talented athletes, in this case female sprinters, get lost in the physical and psychological aftermath of Champs.

For a nation with a track and field culture so steeped in dominating and excelling at Champs, to get to a space where the new focus would be driven by a man who is the very best in the business at spotting and developing elite young female sprinters would be fantastic. It would, therefore, take some adjusting from all the relevant stakeholders, but simply put, coach Michael Dyke would be doing it not for Edwin Allen nor Champs, but for Jamaica and the world. With that said, I am imploring the JAAA and the Government to make coach Michael Dyke an offer he cannot refuse.