Wed | Apr 8, 2020

ASAJ disappointed with Olympic setback

Published:Wednesday | March 25, 2020 | 12:23 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer

Disappointed but in agreement. That’s the position of the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) regarding the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Association’s president, Martin Lyn, told The Gleaner yesterday that the well-being of the athletes was most important, even if he regretted that they will have to wait another year to perform at the Games.

“First of all, the ASAJ is very disappointed in the postponement of the Olympic Games. However, life prevails and the well-being of our athletes is paramount, so from that point of view, even though we’re disappointed, we agree with the decision,” said Lyn.

Speaking after a decision by the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government to push the Games back to 2021 due to the spread of the coronavirus, Lyn explained: “The basis of our disappointment would be the fact that our athletes have been training long and hard to get to the pinnacle of success at the Olympic Games and now, obviously, this puts them a year back.”

Four-time Olympic swimmer Alia Atkinson and diver Yona Knight-Wisdom came immediately to mind.

“Alia Atkinson, for instance, was all geared up to perform again at these Olympic Games and now she has to wait another year,” Lyn bemoaned in relation to the superstar swimmer. “And our diver, Yona, he currently ranks very high in the world and who knows what will happen next year?”

Pan-Am silver medallist last year in the one metre springboard event, 2016 Olympian Knight-Wisdom is currently world number 15 in the three metre discipline.

Looking ahead, Lyn continued: “I’m pretty sure he (Knight-Wisdom) will still be ranked pretty high in the world but when you work towards something and you intend to taper, that’s the aquatic term, at a certain point in your programme and that tapering is put off for an entire year, it does in fact affect you, you know, physically, psychologically, and it may affect you, not necessarily in a positive way. But at the same time, you see other countries and other athletes excelling, it just puts a little damper on things to have this extension going forward.”

Lyn does not believe the postponement will affect the 31-year-old Atkinson, an Olympic 100-metre breaststroke finalist in both 2012 and 2016.

“As an association, I don’t think we’re concerned about Alia in terms of her years in Earth because she has already proven that she has maintained a very high standard, long after a lot of people thought that she would have thrown in the hat, so to speak,” said Lyn.

In a final vote of confidence, he added, “she’s (Atkinson) very focused and very determined and I think that will see her through to next year.”