Champs should not be the focus – Miles - Rusea’s track coach wants World Under-20 to be priority in distorted season

March 23, 2021
Ruseas High School Class Three 4x100m team pose for a picture after competing at the 2018 Western Relays.
File Ruseas High School Class Three 4x100m team pose for a picture after competing at the 2018 Western Relays.

In the midst of an unprecedented junior track season which has already got off to a late start, Rusea's High School head coach Rodrick Miles says that his primary focus is not on the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships (Champs) as the country prepares for more restrictions that could hamper junior athletes.

In a press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced tighter curfew hours for the next three weekends beginning this Saturday at noon and ending on Monday at 5 a.m. The restrictions which end on April 13 threaten to affect an already delayed season that completed its fourth week of meets with strict COVID-19 protocols last Saturday.

Miles says that his priorities lie in ensuring that those in their final year of eligibility can be in a position to earn berths to college next year but acknowledges that a potential stoppage could affect his athletes.

"Champs is not my main focus. I just want to get off some [athletes] to college. [But] of course it [would] affect them because if they don't race it will affect them. I am talking to [my athletes] and letting them know that they have to race in training maybe twice a week to get sharp and everybody is used to that."

On Sunday, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said that he was satisfied with the protocols that the Jamaica Athletic Administration Association have enforced and that the meets could continue as long as those protocols are upheld. However, it is still not clear whether meets would be allowed to go on with the new weekend restrictions. And Miles believes for this reason efforts should be made to ensure that student-athletes in their final year and also those who have world competition aspirations should be given priority to compete.

"It's a case where you have to understand [the current situation] and work where you can work. I would call [on] track and field organisers to protect those children who need to qualify for the World Under 20's. I believe that the Class four and the Class three children can wait until Champs," Miles said. "But [maybe] you can have meets in the week before Champs for those children that actually need the times for college and also need times to qualify for the World Under 20's."

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