Optimism eastern, central and western champs could be back on trackWednesday, April 07, 2021
There is optimism that the three regional high school track and field championships, which were abruptly called off last month, will be held next week, giving those athletes opportunities to qualify for the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Championships later this month.
A document published on the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association's (JAAA) website has given dates for the three championships to be held between April 13 and 16, but it is understood that the organisers are still awaiting official approval from the Government for the meets to go ahead.
Meanwhile, president of the JAAA, Garth Gayle, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that they “remain alert and await the Government response” and added that the respective organising committees were given “time to properly organise for the successful staging of each event”.
Eastern Champs are set for April 13, Central Champs for April 14-15 and Western Champs for April 16, all less than two weeks before the proposed start of the ISSA Championships at the National Stadium.
The Corporate Area Champs, for schools in Kingston and St Andrew, were held March 19-20 at the stadium complex.
Stephen Smith, president of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA), organisers of Western Champs, and Orette Wallace, chairman of the Central Champs planning committee, both expressed optimism yesterday that they would be given the thumbs up later this week.
“We need this to happen for the children who have been working hard for months,” Wallace told the Observer. “Even if we only get Central Champs, it would give the children a chance to compete,” he said before adding that there were plans for the meet to be streamed live in North America to give college coaches a chance to see the athletes in action given they would not be able to attend the event.
Three of the four regional championships, which were being used as qualifying meets for the ISSA Championships, were called of last month — Eastern Championships due to be held Tuesday, March 23 were called off less than 12 hours before the event slated for the UWI-Mona complex and as a result the Central Championships set to be held at G C Foster and the COCAA Western Championships set for the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex later that week were also called off without any new dates set.
Since then many reasons have been given for the meets being called off including the increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, the cost of running the championships, as well as government approval either not given or was withdrawn.
Smith said yesterday they were “optimistic we will get the chance to stage the championships,” and added that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had to “do their checks and balances”.
Wallace said they too were optimistic but were keeping their fingers crossed and were awaiting what the prime minister would announce at the end of the present set of protocols.
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