Small Talk! - ISSA president defends Rodgers decision amid protest
SSA president Dr Walton Small has defended his organisationís decision to allow Ugandan 800m runner Ari Rodgers to compete for Kingston College at this year's ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships.
The decision has been met with bitter criticism with defending champions Calabar boycotting yesterday's event launch at the Spanish Court hotel, after returning the Mortimer Geddes trophy to the ISSA secretariat earlier in the morning.
Local rules state that athletes must be registered for their respective schools by September 30 and have at least 80 per cent attendance record to compete at Champs. The Ugandan was registered after this date but Small explained that ISSA had received all documentation from Kingston College as early as July 18, 2016 and the athlete was scheduled to arrive in Kingston on August 24, 2016.
"We waived the attendance and deadline registration because we were convinced that enough effort was made to get the young man to Jamaica," said Small.
He noted that not all 15 members of the executive were present. Among those absent was Calabar principal Albert Corcho, whom Dr Small said learnt of ISSAís decision on the very day it was made.
"This is a democratic society and if the committee decides that the young man should participate then that was the result and that was sent off to Kingston College," said Small.
The vote by those present was one absentia, one against, and the remaining members voted in favour.
According to Small, when Rodgers arrived at the airport in the Ugandan capital at Kampala, he was refused boarding for Germany as it was determined he needed a German visa to travel. This was communicated to KC authorities and Jamaican embassy officials who moved to address the issue. Rodgersí airline ticket was cancelled and a second ticket purchased for him to arrive in Kingston on September 24, 2016, via Kenya. However, he was once again refused boarding. Eventually Rodgers received clearance to travel and he travelled to Kingston on October 16 and began school at KC on Tuesday, October 18, 2016.