JAAA vice president lashes out after top athletes' last-minute withdrawals cost 4x400m relay team Olympic spot Featured

 JAAA Vice President Ian Forbes has expressed his disappointment after the Jamaica 4x400m relay team failed to achieve the qualifying mark for the Olympic Games in Paris. The setback came after the top three finishers in the 400m at the National Championships and the 400m hurdles champion pulled out at the last minute. The replacements ran a time of 2:59.87, once again falling short of the required time, much to the frustration of fans who had anticipated an easy qualification.

Deandre Watkins, Sean Bailey, and Jevaughn Powell, who ran impressive times of 44.48, 44.65, and 44.79 respectively in the 400m finals on Friday night, were expected to secure the qualification. Additionally, Malik James King, who clocked a lifetime best of 47.42 in the 400m hurdles, was also anticipated to contribute to the effort. However, their last-minute withdrawals left the team scrambling for replacements.

“We were most disappointed with respect to these late withdrawals,” Forbes told Sportsmax.TV. “It is my personal feeling that if one of the top three had come, we would have made the qualifying mark. It is very distressing when we thought we had persons ready and rearing to run for their country. These late withdrawals hit us hard. It must be remembered that the top 16 were advanced to the semi-final to facilitate this based on the suggestion of one of the athletes, and we took it on board. So, it’s most disappointing.”

Forbes highlighted the extensive preparations made to ensure the athletes were in optimal condition for the relay. Meetings with the athletes, coaches, and agents prior to the start of the National Championships led to the top 16 runners being advanced to the semi-finals, with heats and semi-finals run on Thursday and the finals on Friday night. This schedule was designed to give the runners ample time to recuperate before the 4x400m relay, which was scheduled for 8:05 pm on Sunday. The athletes were provided with hotel rooms for adequate rest and transportation. Additionally, two companies had put up JMD$1 million as an incentive for the runners should they achieve the qualification time.

“And I am not saying if one had an issue, particularly a potential injury or a niggle, they should have competed. But I find it a little off-putting that at least three of our top athletes did not participate, and the withdrawals, some of them were so very late, minutes before the start. I find it most distressing,” Forbes added. “We did it in good faith. I think maybe we should have them sign a contract. We did it in good faith because they are our athletes, and we figured there would be some amount of commitment to the cause in terms of advancing the country to the top 16. It is not good.”

Forbes noted that no explanations had been provided by the athletes for their late withdrawals. “We need to have a pow-wow to look at what really transpired because the information from the coaches was very fast, things moved very quickly, so we haven’t gathered all the information. But it was most distressing that at the last minute, persons were pulling out.”

Despite the setback, Forbes commended the efforts of Reheem Hayles, Tarees Rhoden, Kimar Farquharson, and Zandrian Barnes, who stepped up to compete. “I must pause to commend the ones who stepped up and gave it their all. They really tried,” he said.

The team, Jamaica Gold, which should have included national champion Deandre Watkins, Sean Bailey, Jevaughn Powell, and 400m hurdles champion Malik-James King, fell short of the qualification mark, leaving fans and officials angered and disheartened.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 02 July 2024 08:42
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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