31.07.2014. Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Women's 400m Hurdles final from Hampden Park. Kaliese Spencer and Janieve Russell of Jamaican won Gold and Bronze

What would the eve of a global track and field event be, without a potential flare-up between the ebullient MVP Track Club boss, Stephen Francis and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA)?

With the athletes and officials on a staggered trek into Rio-de-Janeiro
for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, a situation is brewing that could have thoughts trending away from the real cause. This is to create the type of atmosphere within that camp that will lead to optimum performance.

The Gleaner’s Special Projects Editor, Andre Lowe, has written that Francis has “criticised the August 8 deadline established by the JAAA to prove their fitness.” This is in reference to the four athletes who were granted medical exemptions, which limited or in some cases prevented, their participation in the June/July trials.

MVP Track club boss, Stephen Francis says his young charges Elaine Thompson and Janieve Russell have both recovered well after being forced to request medical exemptions from the National Senior Championships, but criticised the August 8 deadline established by the JAAA to prove their fitness.

Lowe quoted Team Leader, Ludlow Watts, as saying recently, “a series of physical tests and on-track assessment will be conducted by their panel of medical and technical personnel…………to determine if they should be allowed to compete instead of the third placed finishers at trials.” Watts went on to say, according to the Gleaner story, that the tests will have to be carried out before August 8 at 11 a.m., when they (the JAAA) will make their final submissions.

Two MVP athletes are in the mix of four exempted athletes, according to the story – Elaine Thompson had to skip the 200m final after earlier winning the 100m event due to an aggravated hamstring injury, while Janeive Russell could not compete in the 400m hurdles at the trials at all, after injuring herself days before the event. Neither has competed since.

Sprint hurdler Hansle Parchment, who also received an exemption, ran a hurdles race in Belgium recently and clocked 13.55 – pedestrian by his standards. Usain Bolt pulled out of the 100m final and the heats of the longer sprint. He motored 19.89 in the London DL 200m and the universal cry was that “He is back.”

The JAAA decrees that the tests will have to be carried out before August 8 at 11 a.m., when they will make their final submissions.

Francis was also quoted as saying that he has no issue making his athletes available for the medical tests, but warned that it will not be allowed to interrupt his programme, while arguing that the JAAA’s approach is counter-productive.

He explained to the Gleaner, “They tell me it’s an ultra-sound so that is no problem,” Plus the training track is public, but in terms of doing anything with the athlete, which is not on their schedule, we are not going to allow it”.

The man who coached Asafa Powell to a 100m world record 2005, added, “There is no reason for that (August 8 deadline) because they have until the day before the event to declare, they can wait. If the hurdles start on the 15th, they can wait until the 14th, so there is no good reason for that except to set up bureaucratic guidelines to satisfy themselves.”
On the question of Russell, he said, “She is more than a second faster than anyone else in Jamaica, she is unbeaten all year. She has run four races and PB-ed four times, so I don’t understand the need to rush the issue, especially when the people who you are talking about are not, on current form, in their league.”

Russell has the fourth fastest time in the world this year – 53.96. The choice to replace her would be the trials 3rd placer, Kaleise Spencer, whose best time this year is 55.02.
The women’s 200m was won by Simone Facey with Veronica Campbell-Brown second and Kali Davis-White, third.


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