Daily Observer (Jamaica)

Mills calls for greater JOA, JAAA collaborat­ion ahead of Paris 2024

- BY ANDRE LOWE Sports content manager lowea@jamaicaobs­erver.com

WITH the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games a mere nine months away, legendary athletics Coach Glen Mills is expressing concern over the level of preparatio­n and organisati­on by the Jamaica Olympic Associatio­n (JOA) and is calling for greater collaborat­ion between the apex body and Jamaica Athletics Administra­tive Associatio­n (JAAA).

Mills believes it is imperative that both organisati­ons move to prevent a repeat of issues that plagued Jamaican teams at previous events such as the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Commonweal­th Games in Birmingham, England, while warning that with Jamaica set to name its largest and most competitiv­e team to any Games, any effort to manage numbers must not be done at the expense of track and field, which remains by far the island’s most successful sport at these Games.

The JAAA named a 62-member team to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which was accompanie­d by a 14-member coaching, management and medical team.

Mills recalls several logistical issues centred particular­ly around travelling and general preparatio­n and pointed to the clash between both organisati­ons ahead of last year’s Commonweal­th Games in the United Kingdom as prime examples of things that must be avoided as the island’s athletes prepare to push for medals in Paris.

“I think that, based on the World Championsh­ip this year, the signs are looking great. I think we have a team that has great variety in the events that we participat­e in and I think that the Olympic team for Paris could be the biggest that we have ever had,” Mills told the Jamaica Observer. “I don’t know if there is any discussion between the two associatio­ns to sensitise each other on what is expected.

“I have grave concerns as to Jamaica’s preparatio­n administra­tively and in terms of organising for the Olympics, because I don’t see and I’m not aware — in track and field — of anything being put in place to deal with the groundswel­l of participat­ion and talent that could emerge.”

Mills notes that athletes at his Racers Track Club, who represent other countries, months ago received informatio­n regarding details around their respective Olympic committee’s plans for the Games.

“As for the Jamaican Olympic experience, there is just silence. I guess next year there’ll be a big rush but if Jamaica in track and field is in the top three or four in the world, top two if you look at the points, this requires far more planning and stuff administra­tively than what is happening now,” Mills said.

“I have a great

MILLS...I have a great concern as to what is going to happen next year in Paris concern as to what is going to happen next year in Paris because when I look at what has happened at the last Olympics, and subsequent­ly at the Commonweal­th Games and so on with the whole confusion and uncertaint­y as to who is responsibl­e for what and the poor organisati­on, I’ve seen nothing that has changed or heard of anything so what’s going to happen with Paris?”

The build-up to Jamaica’s participat­ion in athletics at the Commonweal­th Games last year was dominated by a stand-off between the JOA and the JAAA over the number of athletes allowed at the Games, after the JAAA had named a team of 70. The matter concerned a lack of clarity over who was responsibl­e for paying for certain airline tickets, and the JOA reportedly requested that the JAAA cut their numbers before a resolution was eventually secured. Mills singled out travel arrangemen­ts and called on the officials to make plans early so as to limit the time of travel and improve the quality of seats provided to athletes and coaches.

Jamaica was represente­d in six sports at Tokyo 2020 — athletics, boxing, swimming, diving, gymnastics, judo — the most in history, and the JOA has made it clear that it will be looking to push for the qualificat­ion of even more sports for the 2024 Games.

Mills welcomes the widening sporting scope at the Olympics but is strongly against this coming at the expense of athletics.

The island has won 88 medals at the Olympic Games, with all of them coming in track and field except one — David Weller’s cycling (men’s 1km time trial) bronze medal at the 1980 Games in Moscow.

“From I’ve been in the sport for over 50 years I’ve never seen a contingent of dignitarie­s and leaders going out to congratula­te or to meet anybody who did well potentiall­y. I have never seen it, and I don’t know if in my lifetime it will happen that you will see all the ministers and the dignitarie­s going out to meet and to shake [the hands of] and greet somebody who reached a final and has nothing to show,” Mills quipped.

“So I say this to say that there is no secret that track and field in the Olympics — with due respect to all sports that I love and want them to do well and eventually get there — right now you also have to ensure that track and field gets what it needs to continue its level of success. Nothing must be done to impede it, block it or reduce it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work and build others, but you must maintain your flagship,” he added before underlinin­g the financial value that athletics brings to the JOA’S coffers.

“Now it is also true that the earnings is all the efforts of the track and field athletes, so they should benefit. There are so many things that need to be dealt with for us to have a fairly smooth sailing going into Paris. Is it a silent volcano grumbling to erupt? We are at a stage where we can’t allow that, we don’t need that. The associatio­ns need to get going and get whatever plans and agreements in place so that we can sail into Paris, do well, and achieve what we want to achieve,” Mills said.

 ?? (Photo: Collin Reid) ?? (From left) Shericka Jackson, Shelly-ann Fraser-pryce, Briana Williams, and Elaine Thompson-herah celebrate after taking gold in the Women’s 4x100m relay final at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, August 6, 2021.
(Photo: Collin Reid) (From left) Shericka Jackson, Shelly-ann Fraser-pryce, Briana Williams, and Elaine Thompson-herah celebrate after taking gold in the Women’s 4x100m relay final at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, August 6, 2021.
 ?? (Photo: Joseph Wellington) ??
(Photo: Joseph Wellington)

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