Athletics

Fortis to Fervet!

KC track coach Neil Harrison yields to JC's bid to change camp

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

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Neil Harrison's stint at Kingston College is over as he has made the move to rivals Jamaica College, several well-placed sources have informed the Jamaica Observer.

It is understood that Harrison, who accepted a lucrative package, is one part of a massive overhaul of the track and field programme at Jamaica College with another big-name administrator expected to join the Old Hope Road-based school in the capacity of technical director in charge of the programme, allowing Harrison more time to concentrate on his coaching duties.

Jamaica College, who won the last of 21 ISSA Boys' Champs titles in 2011, have been making significant investments into the track and field programme with an artificial running track estimated to cost $100 million, expected to be completed by the start of the school year in September.

Harrison, who is also head of the Physical Education Department at Kingston College, has endured four tough years at the North Street-based institution and efforts to reach him yesterday were unsuccessful.

Dave Myrie, principal at Kingston College, told the Observer yesterday he had not heard anything from Harrison and was not in a position to comment.

But while admitting he “had heard rumours”, Myrie said he had not got anything official and went on to say: “If you are asking if I fired Mr Harrison, that is not so.”

When reached yesterday, Ian Forbes, general manager for sports at Jamaica College, would not confirm or deny the rumours and referred the Observer to the school's principal, Wayne Robinson.

A female, who answered the telephone in the principal's office, said Robinson would “not be available until Friday” even as she said he was not off the island.

Harrison was a part of the Jamaican coaching delegation to the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, July 10-15, and when he was asked then by the Observer to address rumours that he would be leaving, he denied them.

The coach took Munro College to prominence before he jumped at the opportunity to take over the reins at Kingston College, but his failure to land them the Mortimer Geddes trophy did not go over well with several factions within the Kingston College family, including some highly placed individuals.

Earlier this year at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, a defiant Harrison told the Observer he was not going to be pushed out of his job as head coach of the Kingston College track and field team anytime soon and that he was ready to lead Kingston College back to the top of the points' table at the ISSA Boys' Championships.

The comments had come on the back of calls for his removal from the position after the school finished second to Calabar for the third straight year and had not won the Mortimer Geddes trophy since 2009 when they added a 31st lien.

In Philadelphia in late April Harrison had said: “I am ok, I don't think anyone can question my competence as a coach. I have been there, done that, but maybe what you can question is if we win or not, but I am fine and I will continue to do my best as a part of the KC coaching staff.”

When asked directly whether he felt his job security was in question, Harrison, a former Tivoli Gardens athlete, said: “I was employed by the principal and he is still in control, we have spoken several times since Champs, but we have not spoken about my leaving the job, my job security was never mentioned.”

He stressed then that calls for his firing did not bother him. “People will always talk and I can guarantee that most who speak maybe contribute nothing to the programme, those who contribute, yes they want to win but they are very supportive and win or lose they try to support as best as possible.”

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