The Jamaica Olympic Trials/National Senior Championships is really a trial of sorts. The 4 day meet is the stage, where athletes enter their names and talent to have a shot at representing Jamaica at the Olympics and even better, improve their professional rankings.
The organizers and selection committee have the meet as a crucial step for selection to the national team. Athletes must show up and compete in their events, to be a part of the team. Now let’s be clear, Olympic teams can be selected without trials, but some countries with large talent pools, will use a system – a fair system for athletes to qualify. USA uses top 3 and you are in! Jamaica uses a top 3 and you might be in with a loophole of sorts, or better yet a provision for top ranked athletes to get by with a medical exemption if they may be nursing an injury.
This 2016 Senior Championships sees 2 top ranked athletes, Usain Bolt and Jeneive Russel, applying for a medical exemption.
Now I understand that we all want the best athlete on the track to wear the national colors and win medals so we can line the upgraded streets of the Palisadoes and block Half Way Tree, while watching the jumbotrons! and beating our dutch pots and while kids go crazy with their vuvuzellas.
The men’s 100m went off. Usain Bolt the double olympic champion in the event, applied for a medical exemption and it is understood that he will shuttle off to Germany to get treatment, run at the London Diamond League, prove fitness and like magic he is back to defend his title/s and yea!!!! all Jamaica is saved.
I say this is a farce and should be laid to rest. The medical exemption rule that Jamaica uses is like gun laws in the US which were adopted when they used muskets. Dr Warren Blake explained that the medical exemption rule is employed, since Jamaica, the tiny island, does not have a large talent pool.
Well excuse me Dr Blake, Jamaica does have a large talent pool and unfortunately in this case, large talent. My issue isn’t so much the rule, my issue is the impact on those who actually ran and are at the mercy of the selection committee. What we must understand is that we are dealing with people’s lives and livelihood. These athletes have trained for many years, making great sacrifices and the ‘top dog’ gets to “eat your food” just like that, just because…… Jevaughn Minzie finished 3rd, Senoj Jay Givans placed 6.
Now, why am I focused on these 2 spots. Minzie should represent Jamaica in the flat event while Givans should be on the relay. We must realize that Minzie by virtue of an olympic berth in the flat event, can enhance his livelihood, so too Givans. Why must we disenfranchise Minzie? Minzie should run the 100, and imagine what that means for his career, if he makes it to the semi final or even the final. Are we not concerned for this young man and his family’s future?
Givans traveled from Texas and this too, could position him for a pro career, if he made the 4×100 team, runs even the heats and the team wins in the final. Givans would be an Olympic Gold medalist. Are we not concerned about these athletes’ development as well.
Jamaica has the talent pool and we need to scrap that medical exemption rule, because if we continue down this road, athletes will just say, “oh well…….” Why are we so wrapped up in sealing Usain’s legacy, allow the youths their fair shot at earning a livelihood.