Big man move, JAAA

Big man move, JAAA

BY Kemar Bogle

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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In 2011 Chris Gayle was snubbed by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), its selectors, and its appointed coach at the time, Otis Gibson. His name was dragged through the mud. In an effort to clear his name and let the public aware of the truth, he participated in an interview with a local radio station during which he gave his version of events. Throughout the whole melee, though, one thing stood out, Gayle said: “Mi talk with my mouth, and mi talk with my bat!” If it needs translation, I believe he meant that he is talking now, but he will let his bat talk also by making tons of runs — and that he did.

I liken Danielle Williams' situation to the above case.

In June she was disqualified at the National Trials and, despite the event eventually being scrapped, her disqualification stood. The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) decided to use the rankings in the event as of August 16, 2019 to select the representatives for the event to the World Championships. Danielle, unlike Gayle, didn't do any interviews, but what she did do was let her running talk.

At the Monaco Diamond League meeting, she ran 12.52 to finish second. Then in the heats at the London Diamond League she ran 12.41 seconds. And in the finals she ran a blistering world-leading time of 12.32 seconds, setting not just the track on fire, but igniting fire on the tail of the JAAA.

We Jamaicans have a saying: “Fire deh a mus-mus tail him t'ink a cool breeze.”

The authorities at the JAAA seemed oblivious that a decision to make Danielle ineligible for selection would have caused an uproar. In fact, it seemed they felt pleased with their decision. But what they didn't count on was Danielle continuously setting the track ablaze. Danielle did her talking on the track, resulting in fans from all over the world demanding her inclusion in the team to the World Championships.

Then came the announcement that no one was expecting — but one many wanted — on August 15. The JAAA announced Danielle was eligible for selection to the World Championships team. The JAAA “announced that following international expert advice and a review of the selection policy, the association said that the fairest way to proceed is for the JAAA to make its selection decision based on the multiple criteria listed in published policy. Although the specific case is not...

“The 100m sprint hurdle race at the national championships had been ruled null and void and Ms Williams' disqualification could, therefore, not stand given that the race was never completed and has been declared null and void.”

In effect this decision is a complete U-turn from their original decision. Of interest is that the latest release of the IAAF rankings has Danielle Williams as the #1 ranked athlete in the event. And, to cement her #1 status, on Sunday, at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting, she ran a meet record 12.46 seconds, destroying the field in the process. But could her #1 status have forced the hand of the JAAA?

There have been talks about the JAAA coming under pressure from her legal team and also from the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the governing body — their interest being having the best of the best, the crème de la crème competing at the World Championships. However, whether it be outside pressure or Danielle's talking on the track, the decision to make her eligible for selection is the right one. It's a bold move. So let us big up the JAAA for making it. Too few leaders are willing to accept being wrong, much less to openly overturn their own decision. So, to the JAAA, big up!

Danielle, the ball is in your court, you've cleared another hurdle, now go ye forth and make thyself, family, supporters, and importantly, the JAAA proud.

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