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Maintain COVID-19 protocols at meets - JAAA boss

Published:Monday | January 9, 2023 | 12:56 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Garth Gayle, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association.
Garth Gayle, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association.

With regions elsewhere in the world being assailed by new outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus, local track and field meet organisers are being asked to be on their guard. This appeal to maintain many of the sport’s COVID-19 protocols has come from Garth Gayle, the president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

Speaking at the 29th staging of the Pure Water/JC/R. Danny Williams development meet on January 7, Gayle asked meet organisers to be wary. During the height of the pandemic, meets in Jamaica had separate sections for boys and girls to minimize transmission of the virus and Gayle wants meet organisers to maintain that arrangement.

“We have reminded meet promoters where we can separate the boys and the girls, to do so. We still encourage sanitisation. We still encourage social distancing, within reason,” he recommended.

“We may now dispense with some of the more rigid protocols, but the protocol of sanitisation, it’s still being promoted from the association’s standpoint to our meet organisers,” he added, in reference to the sanitisation of starting blocks, jump pits and sports equipment.

The JAAA president gave the Jamaica College (JC) organisers the thumbs up.

“I am pleased, but while I am pleased, I am also a little fearful that we will go back to the pre-COVID years and that, while we did well, we still must be mindful of the gains and the advancement we would have made, and so I am still advocating, where we can keep events small, compact, with sufficient spacing, athletes being able to warm-up properly, athletes being able to understand and carry out the instructions of the officials, so that when they get into the real, true competitions which require them to go through all that is required by the rules of the sport, that they are not disenfranchised,” he warned.

With the clock ticking past 10:30 a.m., he observed, “thus far, from what I’m seeing, it’s a good look, and I’m pleased because the meet organiser here at JC is our first vice president and so he himself is one of our strongest advocates of what I would have spoken to.”

The pandemic stopped local athletics in its track in March 2020, but a set of protocols formulated by the JAAA paved the way for a partial return to competition later that season and a full resumption in 2021.

The organisers honoured four past students for their contributors to the school in sport. They were Brandon Samms and Darren Virtue for their service to the dominant JC football programme, successful basketball coach Duane Cunningham and former 800 metres runner Ortis Wynter, who is now vice principal at the school.

Wynter, captain of JC’s winning Boys Championships teams in 1994 and 1995, joined the academic staff as a physical education teacher in 2008 and assisted with the school’s more recent Champs wins, in 2011 and 2021.