KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Local athletics chief, Dr Warren Blake, says the resumption of government funding is imperative if the national programme is continue to develop properly.
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association was saddled with a deficit of $55 million (US$442 750) at the end of the last financial year in September, 2017, and Dr Blake said unless government cash became available, athletes care could be compromised.
“This year, we spent far more on athletes’ welfare than we have in the past and we looked at the reason for this. In the lead-up to Rio 2016, the Government had put in place an athlete support programme, which unfortunately wasn’t continued this year,” Dr Blake told the Gleaner newspaper here.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary that the Government come back and give us some support and inject some cash into the programme because if that doesn’t happen, then it means that people like Yanique Thompson, who came fourth will not be able to train full-time.
“There are others like her who can qualify, but they need that support.”
The 21-year-old Thompson impressed at the last year’s World Championships in London, actually finishing third in the semi-final heats of the women’s sprint hurdles, to narrowly miss out on a place in the final.
Dr Blake explained that once the government funding dried up following the Rio Olympics in 2016, the JAAA was forced to supplement the programme with its funds
“The Government expressed a wish to continue the programme but the funds were not forthcoming,” the administrator noted.
“We had athletes who needed support, and in today’s world, you will not become a good athlete unless you can basically train full-time, because being a top-class athlete is a full time endeavour.
“After having the support [ahead of] Rio and the funds wasn’t forthcoming from Government [last year], we had to dig into our reserves and utilise some money that we had set aside to finish our building and use that to help the athletes instead.”
Jamaica sent a 56-member team to the London World Championships and Dr Blake stressed the JAAA’s vision was to ensure athletes who attained qualifying standards, were given every opportunity to develop at international competitions.
“The teams have been getting bigger. When we have more athletes making standards, we try to give them the best opportunity,” he pointed out.
“We don’t just send people who we think are medal prospects, we send people who we think can benefit from the exposure, but that puts a burden on the resources.”