High costs plaguing track and field in the west


High costs plaguing track and field in the west

Observer West writer

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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LUCEA, Hanover - Roderick Myles, coach of Rusea's High and former coach of World Championships medallists Danniel Thomas-Dodd and Rushell Clayton is bemoaning the high cost of running a proper track and field programme, which he cites as one of the main challenges dogging the sport in western Jamaica.

Myles, who coached Thomas-Dodd and Clayton while they were student athletes at Frome Technical, says Westmoreland is a hotbed of talent, but the lack of resources at most of the schools in the parish either saw talented youngsters move to other sports or to other schools outside of the region.

Both Thomas-Dodd and Clayton were among a number of athletes who left Frome Technical when the school was forced to cut sports they could not afford to run. Eventually, football and netball were the ones given the nod, despite the school being named most improved at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in 2013.

Myles said it was a tough decision as Thomas-Dodd was then a promising netball player but left to further her track and field career at Edwin Allen High, while Clayton went to Vere Technical.

“We have very few meets in the region, so almost every weekend we are going out of the region for a development meet and the cost really adds up and not many schools are in the position to afford it,” he told the Jamaica Observer West last weekend.

He added: “Leaving Frome at that time was not an easy decision, but they were forced to make what was then a really tough decision. In the long-run at least these two made it worthwhile.”

He pointed to the long history of track and field excellence in Westmoreland.

“Mannings School used to produce a lot of really outstanding talents at one time, Olympians and World Champions, and now we have Petersfield taking up the mantle. But even now schools from all over the island come here to get talented athletes,” Myles argued.

He pointed out that former Holmwood Technical stand-out Diana Johnson, now in college in the USA; the Edwin Allen twins, Tina and Tia Clayton; as well as the former outstanding sprint hurdler Yannick Hart, who left Mannings School for Wolmer's Boys, are all from the parish.

Myles, himself a former athlete at Mannings, said the grass roots programme in primary schools, and the coaches who coordinate them are doing stellar work, but the sad reality is that there is no sustainability once the young athletes get to high school.

“There is a vibrant track and field programme at the lower age groups and this is what has produced so many great track and field talent from the parish but it's hard to develop them once they get to a certain age, as funds are just not being made available.”

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