Athletics

USA vs Jamaica still on the cards

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer writer

Tuesday, February 26, 2013    

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THE once-hyped clash between Jamaica and the United States on the athletics track is coming closer to reality.

The possibility of a clash between two of the leading track and field nations in the world has been discussed since Jamaica's record medal haul at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

President of USA Track and Field (USATF) Stephanie Hightower told the Jamaica Observer that they will be holding discussions with Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Dr Warren Blake and the minister of sport Natalie Neita- Headley about making it happen.

Hightower and the association's chief executive officer, Max Seigel, were in the island late last week where they attended the funeral service for late North America, Central America and Caribbean Area Association (NACAC) president Neville 'Teddy' McCook on Sunday.

On Saturday Hightower and Seigel were at the National Stadium where they watched the Gibson Relays, a meet McCook helped to found.

"We're talking about developing that series and I think it would be good. We get to see the rivalry in our Penn Relays and we think the love for the sport, the passion that people have we want to develop that relationship between Jamaica and the United States," Seigel said.

"We're talking about developing that series and I think it would be good. We get to see the rivalry in our Penn Relays and we think the love for the sport, the passion that people have we want to develop that relationship between Jamaica and the United States," Seigel said.

Hightower told the Observer that she first attended the Gibson Relays two years ago upon the invitation of former JAAA president Howard Aris when discussions first began about the clash.

"I think it's very important on the international stage that we develop our relationship and continue to develop meets to develop our athletes and promote our sport, so we're looking at some of our young athletes," Seigel told the Observer.

Seigel said there have been discussions about the officials and youth athletes, as well as lead athletes and was impressed with the action he observed on the track at the stadium.

"The youngsters here running, the passion they have for the sport from the people that they have here engaged in, it is really something I want to take back and share with our people back at our federation as well," he said.

"This is exciting. In the States you get to see some of this atmosphere at high school football. It's amazing to see the crowd and how excited they are about the athletes," he added.

Hightower noted that athletics is the number two-ranked sport for high school athletes in the US.

"But we have so many other opportunities and options in our country for children to participate in. Our pipeline is strong coming up to the elite level, but what we're to do with new programming and new opportunities is to figure out to strengthen (it) and keep young people in the sport after they get to high school and even beyond," she said.

Different kinds of partnerships and exchange programmes are the ways being examined to make that happen, said Hightower.

President of USA Track and Field Stephanie Hightower (left) and USATF CEO Max Seigel at Sunday's funeral service for Neville 'Teddy' McCook on the grounds of Kingston College.

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