JAAA’s communications officer Dennis Gordon makes a point at the Jamaica Observer Press Club at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue offices last Friday. (PHOTO: NAPHTALI JUNIOR)
THE Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has moved to defend its decision to assign 19 officials to the 53-member senior team to the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China in August.
The association came under scrutiny for the 19-member pool, which included a team leader; a manager and two assistants; six coaches; five massage therapists, a three-member medical team and a media officer.
The support staff was thought to be too large, and questions were raised about the role and function of some of the individuals, and the costs involved.
But Dennis Gordon, JAAA’s communication officer, explained to reporters and editors during a recent Jamaica Observer Press Club at the tabloid’s Beechwood Avenue base, that it is not all fun and games for officials as critics may believe.
“When you ask for and demand high-quality performances, then you must therefore understand that you need the support staff to get it done. The truth is, it is not fun and games when officials go to these meets, it’s constant work, no time to shop, no time for games… it’s constant work,” he declared.
“When you have morning sessions and you have five coaches spanning nine disciplines, it becomes difficult. So when you have a morning session and the coaches go from 10-12 and they have a break, those coaches don’t come back to the hotel, they stay over sometimes without meals to prepare themselves for the afternoon session,” he added.
Gordon added that the medical team did not have the numbers for such a major event as the World Championships.
“Let us talk about our medical team, which I am saying to my president, we need to double it. It is difficult when you have the medical team working during the morning session, preparing athletes for the afternoon session and then come back to the hotel and set up a medical post for pre- and post-race work.
“So those who had competed want massages, and those who are going to compete the following morning have to get attention. I believe Jamaica has reached the stage now where you have to double your number of officials,” Gordon explained.
Additionally, Gordon used the United States pool of 103 officials and 132 athletes as a case in point to justify the association’s move, noting that apart from the team leader and his two assistants, all the other members of the pool were “professionals”.
“There was a room in the hotel those (US) officials didn’t leave. They had to ensure that when the athletes ran and came back, they had a peanut butter sandwich or a tuna sandwich or something to eat because the canteen is not opening until a particular time,” he noted.
Meanwhile, JAAA’s assistant secretary, Marie Tavares, explained that while observing the US team, she noted the task of one individual.
“The US had someone who sits at the (hotel) door, and when the athletes are leaving they have to report to that person. The individual inspects them (athletes) and ticks off whatever they have… correct footing (right and left) of spikes and number uniform, all of those things a lady sits there and ticks off,” she said.
Warren Blake, president of JAAA, also weighed in on the issue.
“When I used to travel as team doctor, I had to get up and go to the warm-up track and do all the dope testing with the athletes. When the event finishes at 10 (pm) oftentimes I am there 12-1 (am) waiting for them to finish dope testing and sometimes without transportation too,” he said.
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