The Jamaica Olympic Association has sought to clear up suggestions it neglected to pay full respsect to six Jamaican Olympians who collected upgraded silver medals during the Mueller Anniversary Games in London last week.

The six, who were having bronze medals from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics upgraded, had voiced disappointment that there were no Jamaican officials to share what was a proud moment for them.

According to the JOA though, every effort was made to be present and the presence of the girls at the ceremony in London, had much to do with its efforts to ensure the event took place at a time convenient to the athletes.

“We didn’t have a representative from Jamaica, from the JOA, no one. I feel disappointed,” Novlene Williams-Mills had said after the occasion.

Williams-Mills, along with Shereefa Lloyd, Shericka Williams, Rosemarie Whyte-Robinson, and Bobby-Gaye Wilkins collected silver medals for the mile relay in 2008 while Christine Day, Lloyd, Whyte-Robinson, Williams and Williams-Mills, collected silver medals for 2012.

“For many years I represented Jamaica at the highest level. I have represented Jamaica at four Olympics at the highest level, World Championships at the highest level. I’ve made multiple Jamaica teams and for not one person from the JOA or in sports was able to make sure everything went smoothly and to ensure that we were taken care of was really disappointing.”

According to the the Olympic body, however, upon being informed of the medal ceremony, they entered into discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about scheduling a convenient date for all stakeholders.

Despite those efforts, however, the JOA was not able to send representatives because of prior commitments to the 2019 Pan America Games in Lima, Peru.

The challenge in being able to attend, the JOA said, was relayed to the athletes but that all preparations for a smooth medal ceremony, inclusive of accommodation and airtravel had been handled by the International Olympic Committee.

“They were advised to take into consideration the fact that the event being only three weeks away, there may be logistic challenges, particularly in view of firstly, the fact that persons including some Olympians and their allowed guests required visas and, secondly, the imminent games commitments and preparation requirements of the JOA which may very well preclude attendance,” the body said in a statement on Friday.

The body was also quick to point out that the view that the athletes were not seen as priority was erroneous, and that it would always seek to commend the athletes on their achievements.

 

With regard to the arrangements being made, the JOA said the Olympians were informed that the IOC would be responsible for flight arrangements to and from the event, as well as hotel accommodations and that the IOC would liaise with the IAAF regarding transportation and event logistics.

Six Jamaican Olympians, who collected upgraded silver medals during the Mueller Anniversary Games in London on Sunday, said they were honoured to have their bronze medals from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games upgraded but were greatly disappointed that no Jamaican officials were on hand for what was a special moment for them and the country they represented.

The women said they feel slighted because no Jamaican official accompanied them to the United Kingdom last week to collect their medals. They say they had mismatched uniforms, there was no one to greet them at the London Stadium, no one knew they were getting the medals and to date, no one has sent a congratulatory message.

One of the women who chose to remain unidentified said that when they arrived at the stadium on Sunday they saw Sprintec head coach Maurice Wilson, who seemed surprised to see them and asked why they were there. This, she said, suggested that not even the Jamaican coaches and athletes who were there knew that the women were going to have their medals upgraded on the day.

It is almost as if, they said, nobody cares about them once their careers are over.

The two teams had their medals upgraded due to doping sanctions handed to the silver medal-winning teams of Russia from both Games.

Shereefa Lloyd, Shericka Williams, Rosemarie Whyte-Robinson, Novlene Williams-Mills and Bobby-Gaye Wilkins collected silver medals for the mile relay in 2008 while Christine Day, Lloyd, Whyte-Robinson, Williams and Williams-Mills, collected silver medals for 2012.

Both teams received their medals on Sunday, July 21 on the final day of the Mueller Anniversary Games held in London. Two-time Olympic champion Mr Pal Schmitt, a member of the International Olympic Committee, presented the medals.

“For me personally it was an honour that after all these years we got our medals upgraded but the biggest part for me was that all these ladies that have run in the past were able to make the trip. For me, sharing that experience with them again was wonderful,” said Williams-Mills, who now has three Olympic silver medals and a bronze.

“For the Mueller Anniversary Diamond League to even extend that opportunity for us to come there and receive our medals, for the IOC to make sure that we rightfully got those medals after we started the process a year ago with the JOA, for them to accommodate us and make sure we feel the love is wonderful.”

She said it was also great that there were able to bring a few family members with them to witness them receive their medals enjoy a fun day watching Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce storm to 10.78 in the 100m, Akeem Bloomfield win the 400m in a season-best 44.40 and Rushell Clayton win the 400m hurdles in a personal-best 54.16.

“That was really good,” she said.

On the other side of the occasion is that that so few knew that they were going to be in London to collect those medals nor was there any representation from Jamaica.

“We didn’t have a representative from Jamaica, from the JOA, no one. I feel disappointed,” Williams-Mills said.

“For many years I represented Jamaica at the highest level. I have represented Jamaica at four Olympics at the highest level, World Championships at the highest level. I’ve made multiple Jamaica teams and for not one person from the JOA or in sports was able to make sure everything went smoothly and to ensure that we were taken care of was really disappointing.”

She said that no one from the JOA or JAAA to congratulate them and to ensure that everything went well was a slap in the face.

Lloyd said everything worked out in the end but, “Yes, I think official should have been there because it was difficult to get information about tickets and credentials to go to the stadium,” she said.

“Once we got to the stadium it was also a bit confusing because we didn’t have much direction or guidance. I also did not like the fact that we did not get the logistics about the trip until the day before we travelled. But overall, it wasn’t a bad trip and I do take into consideration that the time to prepare for the trip was short.”

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