Its not all about the sprints- the sport is track and field
By Jodi-Ann Smith,
Monday, 26 September 2011
KINGSTON, Jamaica - Jamaica is often referred to as the sprint factory of the world, because the country is credited for producing some of the world's best sprinters. However the island has not enjoyed the same success in the field and long distance events. Even the longer sprints such as the 800m and to a lesser extent the 400m has proved troublesome for the island's athletes. This just highlights the fact that more focus needs to be placed on the long distance events and of greater urgency, the field events.
Recently there has been a surge of talent amongst the junior athletes in field events such as the shot put and discus. The likes of Traves Smikle, who won Jamaica's first throw (discus) medal (bronze) at a global event, World Youth in 2009, is Pan-american junior discus record holder and Chad Wright, Pan american junior shot put gold medalist, have been standouts in this new emerging talent pool. At July's World Youth Fedrick Dacres created history by taking the discus gold. This has attracted attention to the field events, and much talk has surfaced about getting other athletes involved and improving related training programmes.
However the reality still, is that not much support is given to our field event athletes, and this is more pertinent to our professional athletes. Youngsters like Smikle and Wright are passionate about representing their country at the senior level in their respective events, however the country has no financial resources to offer them. This is a gross injustice as the country, as well as corporate entities seem to only be sponsoring the famed sprinters, and blatantly ignoring our talented field event athletes. The management of athletes, which is inclusive of sponsorship, has a huge impact on their performance, so maybe if even half of the resources given to our sprinters was provided to our field event athletes we would see better performances.
Every athlete should be provided with adequate resources to perform and, if not, no just criticism can be made of their performance. Even when our field event athletes, such as Jason Morgan, represent well for the country, still no support seems to be provided.
In a hope to expose the unfortunate truth about his discus career and seek sponsorship opportunities, Morgan shares his story. "I have no assistance at all. So maybe someone will see my info about my latest performance and help me out, sponsor or give me a contract." This genuine outcry by the athlete highlights the severity of the situation and illustrates to us his immense need for assistance.
Morgan is the Jamaica national discus record holder, six times national champion. CAC games/champion 2010 and 2011 discus champion. Furthermore he was the first and only discus thrower to qualify for the world championships and olympic games, in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Jason adds," I finished 18th overall in the world at this years World Championships in Daegu Korea." With all these commendable achievements to his name it is a shame that this gifted athlete has still not received financial assistance.
Morgan makes his final plea, "I'm really seeking some assistance from somewhere and somehow. With just a little assistance I can make a big impact on the throwing world. I am doing this all alone and it's rough. Its just the grace of God that's carrying me through. I have Pan Am Games next month also, and any help will be appreciated." So Jason has clearly made significant strides in the sport all on his own. This is a person that should definitely be invested in, because if under these testing circumstances he was able to deliver one can only imagine the quality of performances he will produce with external financial assistance.
Jason's story is the testimony of many other field event and distance athletes. We as a people are quick to bash these athletes when they do not perform, ignorant of the fact that these athletes are left to fend for themselves. But it's not only to blame the sponsors because there has been a long standing stigma in the country against all events outside of the sprints, so even when these athletes produce creditable performances there is still a bias against them. It seems as if for these athletes even winning is not enough.
This attitude needs to change and as a country we need to support all our athletes!
If you are able to assist Jason Morgan you may contact him via the following email address: email@example.com
JODI-ANN SMITH, is a track & field athlete, who competed for Campion College at Jamaica High School Championships. Jodi-Ann is a first year medicine student at UWI. email:firstname.lastname@example.org