Regional camps a must for Juniors!
ON THE SPORTING EDGE
With the exception of last year's IAAF World Youths Championships in France where we won nine medals, Jamaica's juniors athletes have fallen well below expectations at global championships.
Despite an abundance of talent, our relay teams for the most part have not delivered.
Even in France last year we were not able to field a male team in the Swedish Medley Relay as injuries decimated the squad and it would be too taxing on the sprinters, some of whom had already run up to seven races in the week.
Two of the main reasons for us not delivering more medals or even better performances at these summer events can be traced back to either the absence of training camps and/or poor selection policies.
In Ostrava, Czech Republic in 2007, Jamaica could have set a record that would last for decades, if the JAAA selectors had picked one other runner, either Jermaine Brown or Darrion Bent to partner Dexter Lee who won the 100m; Ramone McKenzie who won the 200m and Nickel Ashmeade who medaled in both sprints.
Instead, the coaches were forced to use a hurdler, Dwayne Extoll who let the team down badly on the 400m leg, as they faded to the bronze medal position, behind the USA and Japan.
Last year we left behind Jevaughn Minzie from the original squad and with the unfortunate injuries to Jazeel Murphy and Odean Skeen, the team was left way short of legs in France.
This year we have another good chance to win our first World Junior Championships boys 4x100m relay but for this to happen, those two ingredients must be in place-training camps and proper selection.
I am sure that we would never leave Jamaica for a senior World Championships or the Olympic games with less than six relay runners and so the junior teams must never be treated any less than the seniors. It would be easy for a Minzie, Bent or Brown to be disappointed by their non-selection after earning a spot on the team and walking away from the sport.
There have been two excuses, or reasons, why the JAAA have not held camps in the last six or seven years one is cost and the other is that the students were often times sitting exams in late June or July and so travelling across the country for these weekend camps are not always helpful.
Additionally, with the absence of camps where national coaches can get a first hand assessment of the athletes, too many athletes have turned up at meets carrying injuries.
At the World Junior Championships in Poland in 2008, about four athletes never took part in the meet, while another six or seven broke down in competition.
Regional camps then should be considered. With the number of nationally recognised coaches available in all regions it should not be too difficult to put these camps together.
Athletes from western Jamaica could easily be accommodated at the Montego Bay Sports Complex to train; those in central Jamaica could go to either GC Foster College or STETHS, while those in Kingston could use any of the two tracks at the stadium complex.
Given the early season showing in the throwing events and jumps, Jamaica stands a great chance of reaping our best medal haul at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona July 10-15 and it behooves the JAAA to leave no stone unturned to ensure that athletes have all the help they can get in this endeavour.