Motivation needed for long distances, says Quarrie

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

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A cultural shift and changed mindset are required for Jamaican athletes to embrace non-traditional events and replicate the success the country has had in the sprints over the years.


This seems to be the consensus of Montreal Olympics 200m gold medallist Donald Quarrie and head coach of national team to the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Maurice Wilson.


"We need interest from the athletes. We need to motivate them and let them understand that not everyone can get a lane in that 100m... and there is room in the 400m; there is room in the 800m and in the 1500m," Quarrie told reporters at the regular Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the company’s Beechwood Avenue headquarters yesterday.


"It will take a little while, but that’s our goal and I think in another 10 years we should be able to have a more rounded team in the different events," Quarrie stated.


"It takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of coaching; the interest is not there. At the high school level they will do it (but) it comes from coaching staff also," he added.


Wilson suggested that it may be part of the culture while making reference to African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Morocco, which seem to focus on the middle and long distance events.


A long distance athlete would need to train as many as seven hours longer than the average sprinter or middle distance runner.


"You know how we are when it comes to the work thing... so it has to be culturalised," Wilson said. "We have to start thinking about other areas because obviously, the sprints are locked tight.


The Holmwood Technical coach noted that athletics governing bodies, both locally and internationally, encourage participation in events above 800m, but reiterated: "It’s just for us to try and see if we can spread this new thinking across to the athletes."


Meanwhile, Wilson said where the best performances in track and field emerge is cyclical and that it is important to focus on the current success before trying to shift attention to other events.


Wilson, who is also head coach at GC Foster College, said the quality of the 400m runs by champion Dane Hyatt (44.83 seconds) and silver medallist Rusheen McDonald (45.10 seconds) at the recent JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships suggest the country is regaining its footing in the longer event.


"Over the last couple of years we have heard persons talking about the 400m men not stepping up to the plate. We had the same situation with the men (in 100m) a couple of years ago, especially when they were running 10.20s and so.


"I think it’s time now we see the emergence of the 400m runners because the 100-200 sprints is almost locked at this point in time," he added.


Travis Smikle, Dorian Scott, Ashinia Miller and Chad Wright have brought some level of success in field events over the last few years.


Smikle won the discus at the Trials with a stadium record and Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard 67.12m at the weekend, while Scott has won shot put medals at the CAC and Pan American Games.


"Obviously, there is some improvement in the non-traditional areas, but I’ve always said it is very important for us to cement what we have got going for us and then we can look outside," Wilson stated.


"We have to make sure we continue our dominance in the sprints and then we can think about the other areas even though we need to focus on them some more, but we need to make sure we continue to dominate... the sprints and then we can pay attention to the other areas," he argued.


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