More sup­port for young ath­letes

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Hu­bert Lawrence Gleaner Writer

THE JA­MAICA Ath­let­ics Ad­min­is­tra­tive As­so­ci­a­tion (JAAA) is set to in­crease its fo­cus on younger ath­letes. That’s the word from Dr Warren Blake, the newly re­turned pres­i­dent of the lo­cal track and field body. Blake be­lieves this is the way to keep Ja­maica at the pin­na­cle of the sport af­ter the im­pend­ing re­tire­ment of su­per sprinter Usain Bolt.

Blake’s vi­sion for the future will lead the as­so­ci­a­tion to re­struc­ture its work com­mit­tees. Amidst the new group­ings will be a strate­gic plan­ning and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions com­mit­tee and one fo­cused on help­ing good youth ath­letes to ex­cel at the se­nior level.

“Our main su­per­star, Dr The Hon­ourable Usain Bolt is go­ing to be re­tir­ing next year, and we have to put strate­gies in place that would keep us at the pin­na­cle af­ter Usain has gone,” the JAAA pres­i­dent said.

With re­gard to the com­mit­tee that will tar­get those who will fol­low in the foot­steps of the likes of Bolt, Veron­ica Camp­bell-Brown, Asafa Pow­ell and oth­ers who have been campaigning for Ja­maica since the 2004 Olympics, he ex­plained, “We’ve brought in some peo­ple who are skilled at look­ing af­ter young­sters and we’re go­ing to be re­ally fo­cus­ing on the young­sters, to give them what­ever sup­port they need to make the tran­si­tion, and we’re go­ing to be stay­ing closer to them than we have done in the past.”

UN­OP­POSED

Asked to ex­plain why he has been re­turned to of­fice un­op­posed, Blake said: “It’s re­ally a tes­ta­ment to the work that has been put in by this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

He praised the hard work of the ath­letes and cited the last four years as “the most suc­cess­ful four years in the his­tory of track and field in Ja­maica”. Dur­ing his time in of­fice, Ja­maica has twice won 12 medals – an all-time high – in ath­let­ics and last year, placed sec­ond on the medal ta­ble at the World Cham­pi­onships.

“We know”, he as­serted, “the ath­letes work hard and they put in their bit but the sup­port staff that goes with a good pro­gramme, the of­fi­cials, the coaches, they have to be trained to a high level where they can spot tal­ent and hone tal­ent and the of­fi­cials have to know the rules of the game and be able to en­force it.”

Ac­cord­ing to Blake, train­ing for both coaches and of­fi­cials will con­tinue. “This is some­thing that we in­tend to con­tinue and to see that it is stepped up,” he pre­dicted. The JAAA’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing was held last night at the Medal­lion Hall ho­tel in Kingston.

Dr Warren Blake

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