Jamaican athletes bemoan lack of support

Voices of: Asafa Powell (Former world 100 metre record holder); Jason Morgan (National Discus record holder); Dane Hyatt (National 400 metre runner); Leford Green (National 400 metre hurdler) & O'Dayne Richards (World Championships Shot Put bronze medalli



By Kayon Raynor


Despite their heroic performances which landed Jamaica twelve medals, including seven gold,  at the just concluded IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China, many of the nation’s athletes are returning home to stacks of unpaid bills and are uncertain of their day to day survival for the next two year cycle.

Among the athletes who were willing to put pride aside and bare their souls to the RJR Communications Group were Jason Morgan, Dane Hyatt, Leford Green and O’Dayne Richards.

According to the athletes, they are only seeking enough support to ensure they can train and take care of their bodies with whatever help the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), government or corporate Jamaica can offer.

Male team captain Asafa Powell helped to breach the subject with the RJR Sports: “The Jamaican public pretend as if there are only ten persons here at the World Championships, what happens to the other forty who have to go back home after the championship and won’t get the chance to go to any track meet? If these athletes can get help for even five months out of the year, that would help.”

Powell added that they have started to ignore some of the promises from government over the years.

National Discus record holder Morgan, World Indoor mile relay bronze medallist Hyatt and newly minted Shot Put bronze medallist Richards also weighed in on the issue.

“Just thinking about all I’ve been through, makes me want to stop. Two days before I compete at the championship here, my supervisor text me to ask when I am coming back to work,” bemoaned Morgan, who broke down in tears.

According to the America-based Hyatt: “it’s not that we are trying to bash JAAA, but it’s more of an outcry and a constant struggle.”

Jamaica’s first World Senior Championship medalist in a throwing event, shot putter Odayne Richards says the assistance does not only need to be financial. “People in medicine, nutrition and psychology could give support to help develop the athletes and also sponsorship for the coaches,” Richards said.

We are making brand Jamaica look good and I feel as if we should be reaping some of the benefits and rewards of this,” lamented Green.

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