Athletes back Grace Jackson for JAAA presidency

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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A number of athletes who have a vote are backing Seoul Olympic Games 200m silver medallist Grace Jackson for president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) at its annual general meeting set for Thursday, November 29.

"There are more athletes this year than ever before and they are taking the running of the organisation very serious and that's not typical because we keep saying it's not going to change and if we can effect the change the first step is to go out and vote," former national 110m hurdles champion and record-holder Maurice Wignall told the Jamaica Observer.

"There are current athletes who believe in what Grace will do for them and the organisation and the consensus is that they really need a sort of change. They believe that Grace represents what they have been asking for and have needed for many years," he added.

Wignall, who is himself running on Jackson's ticket for the post of director of the bureau of records, started a Facebook page last week alerting those who have a voice that Jackson is running for the presidency.

"We have a lot of athletes who want to vote," he said, adding that more than 50 of the 300-plus delegates with a vote are athletes.

The Calabar old boy said he is planning to establish a web site to help support Jackson's bid.

Jackson, the current first vice-president, is up against incumbent Dr Warren Blake and Lincoln Eatmon in a historic and seemingly contentious race which sees three candidates for the top post for the first time since the association was founded.

Wignall told the Observer the page was started to alert athletes that Jackson was running on a separate ticket for the top job as many were of the view that she was running alongside Eatmon.

"We're trying to get the word out that she is actually running because a lot of persons are not sure that she is running," he explained.

Asked why they would not be backing the current president in his bid for election, Wignall responded: "They don't believe he represents anything new as direction and administration and if it's not anything new, they don't want anything of the same."

Blake, a former vice-president, has held the post since November last year when he was chosen during an extra-ordinary meeting of the JAAA to run the body after the sudden death of former President Howard Aris on November 10, 2011.

"There are programmes that we would love to be in place to support athletes and see athletes as the number one priority, and right now we do not see that as the case," Wignall asserted.

"I can't completely blame anybody because it's not a blame game, it's just these things have not been done. Grace was an athlete, she knows what the athletes need. She knows the treatment athletes have gotten.

"It is something we need to support because at the end of the day I believe it is good for athletes and if we have a strong athlete-centred body, we will ultimately have a stronger administration and a stronger organisation," he argued.

Meanwhile, Wignall rued the fact that there are more than two candidates up for the top position.

"It would be nice if there were two teams running. That way we could pool our votes and create a stronger force against the incumbent, but that is not the case.

"I am supporting Grace and I think Grace has the best ideas to move this organisation forward," Wignall declared.




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