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Big, historic JAAA showdown this week

Mark Wignall

Sunday, November 25, 2012    

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On Thursday, those eligible to vote for the president of the JAAA will be asked to support either the unspectacular incumbent Dr Warren Blake or place a vote for former vice-president and attorney Lincoln Eatmon, or first vice-president and former Olympian Grace Jackson.

What makes this race historic is the inclusion of a woman in the running.

For years, many have fondly referred to the 'KC mafia', that is, the control that KC old boys have had on athletics administration. As a KC old boy, I have no intention of pouring cold water on Warren Blake, who is also an old boy of 'the college', but he is not exactly the late Howard Aris, 'Fudge' to close friends, also another KC old boy. Aris had that thing called 'presence' and clout, and his reach extended far overseas and into the business and political life of Jamaica.

For this reason I cannot blame Dr Blake, for using a picture of Aris and himself on the cover of his manifesto titled Team Warren Blake.

Have you seen that picture? It shows Blake and Aris beside each other, shaking hands. This is, of course, good marketing for Blake who would like to give the impression that 'Fudge' has passed the baton to him.

I do not know much about attorney-at-law Lincoln Eatmon, therefore I cannot comment on his bona fides insofar as they relate to his competence in handling the presidency of the JAAA.

In Dr Blake's list of 'Solid Achievements' in his manifesto, he lists 'Improving the JAAA's asset base from $18.9 million in 2004 to approximately $83.3 million at present'.

Dr Blake has been the JAAA president for one year now, so how can he claim this? Question, how much was the asset base moved in the year that Blake was the president? Dr Blake cannot claim the success of Howard Aris as his own.

Number six on his list of solid achievements is, 'improved performances in the non-traditional events'.

We well remember that Jamaica had an outside shot with the discus at the London Olympics when we sent two participants for the first time -- Jason Morgan and 20-year-old Travis Smikle. Coached by Julian Robinson, Smikle was a bronze medallist at the World Youth Championship, and yet at the Olympics the discus throwers were on their own and coach Robinson was not included in the delegation to London.

Number 11 on Blake's list of solid achievements is, 'Implementing e-commerce to bolster the JAAA revenue'. Where is the evidence of this?

Number 15 on his list is 'Certified the most coaches and officials to world-class standard in the history of Jamaica's track and field'. Really? He did all of that in the one year of his presidency? Again, where is the evidence that it was his presidency that brought about that glorious achievement?

Number 18 on his list is so generic in its description, it borders on laughable. 'Repositioned Jamaica's track and field to elite status'. Oh great. When Usain Bolt struck gold all over in 2008, who was the JAAA president as Jamaica entered the 'elite' status in track and field?

Was that not Howard Aris? Of course it was.

Dr Blake may wish to ride on the coat-tails of the late, great Howard Aris, but in the elections coming up it is highly disingenuous of him to be claiming the achievements of Aris as his own. He needs to focus on his inputs and make the claim under that umbrella.

It may be that at the end Dr Blake wins, and I would have no quarrel with that because it would be the wish of the majority. But a little more straight shooting from Blake is needed.

My choice is Grace Jackson for two reasons. The first is, I believe that as a former athlete and long-running athletics administrator she knows the game better than anyone else present in the running. Second, is my son Maurice, two-time Olympian, is running on her ticket for the post of director of the Bureau of Records.

According to him, "I am supporting Grace because she is better able to represent the athletes' concerns than any of the others going up for president. If I had believed the same about any of the two others, I would have sought a sort of rapprochement with them. It is not that I have anything personal against any of them, only that, to me, Grace stands out by far in what she has to offer."

When I asked him to give me in a nutshell what Jackson represented, he said, "Grace is intimately acquainted with the needs and concerns of the administration and its members, and together with her team, she remains resolute in her commitment to the development and success of our country's athletes."

It seems to me that if the 50 or so athletes who have votes break for Grace Jackson, she has a good chance of winning. And that, of course, would be historic with a woman at the head of athletics administration in a country that has the world's fastest Olympians — male and female.

Friends of Red Hills All-Age bat for the school

The Red Hills All-Age Past Students Association, in an effort to improve and motivate students, past and present, recently presented four scholarships to students who were successful in the 2012 GSAT examinations.

Last Monday, at a function held at the school the scholarships, valued at $25,000 each, were presented to Krishna Barnett - Queens High School; Mickhazia Clarke and Shanice Murray - St Mary's College; and Danika Bennett - Jose Marti.

In addition to the scholarships, the association also presented to the Red Hills All-Age School a TV set to be used in the newly built reading room.

In reviewing the scholarship programme which started three years ago, president of the association Aston Reece advised students, parents and teachers that 12 students have benefitted so far. He reminded them that there were conditionalities that came with the maintenance of the scholarships: Minimum B+ average, Abiding by the school rules, A+ discipline on and off the school campus, and involvement in the school's extra-curricular activities.

Guest speaker, Mr Clifford Webster, implored the students to work hard and remain focused on all areas of their school life. He advised them that his life mirrors the rags to riches story, having grown up in a family of eight boys (he being the last). He fondly reminded them that there was nothing wrong with wearing 'hand me downs' as that was all he wore as a child.

Trained in the public health system, he has worked with WHO in Pakistan, Iraq, several African countries and was also a consultant to Rotary International.

Vice-Principal Mrs Loraine Bramwell expressed gratitude to the Past Students Association for its continued support of the school.

Good show, Red Hills All-Age!

observemark@gmail.com

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