Mowatt empathises with youngsters who will miss trio of important meets


Mowatt empathises with youngsters who will miss trio of important meets

By Paul A Reid
Observer writer

Monday, March 30, 2020

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Former Munro College stand-out Kemar Mowatt says he can empathise with young Jamaican athletes who have been denied the opportunities to compete at the three biggest events on the track and field calendar — the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Championships, Carifta Games, and the Penn Relays — due to the onset of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

All three events are part of the raft of track and field and sporting events which fell victim to the spread of COVID-19 with the Ministry of Health and Wellness pulling the plug on the ISSA Boys' and Girls' Championships on March 11, mere days after suggesting that Jamaican schools forego attending the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

The Penn Relays and the Carifta Games were eventually called off as well, and Mowatt, who was fourth in the 400m hurdles at the 2014 Boys' and Girls' Champs before going on to the University of Arkansas where he was a two-time SEC Conference champion and two-time National Collegiate Athletics Association finalist, said he had expected the events to be called off and felt pity for the youngsters who were looking forward to competing and enhancing their chances of getting scholarships.

“I saw it coming,” he said about the cancellations. “But I was hoping that by a certain time things would have gone back to normal, but that was not the case and, as I have said before, it is not just me that felt it, it's all the others, even the young athletes in Jamaica, those who were preparing for Champs which was really, really important for them to seek scholarships to further their education, either overseas or in Jamaica, at UWI [The University of the West Indies] or UTech [University of Technology Jamaica].”

All is not lost, he said, however, as the students might have a chance to salvage something from the wrecked season. “There are still opportunities to be had, but Champs was the place and moment where they would have really showcased themselves,” he said.

“Scouts and coaches from overseas would come to see them, but everything happen for a reason. I hope they would have done their SATs [Scholastic Aptitude Test] and put things into place so they can still take advantage if the situation presents itself.”

Mowatt, a World Championships finalists and two-time national senior champion, added: “We are all going through this together.” He encouraged athletes to “stay safe, stay isolated, stay away from people as best as possible, try to encourage each other as now more than ever we need each other in times like this. It's not just affecting athletics, but in every aspect of life. It is very serious and we must keep prayers up and stay safe and stay healthy.”

— Paul Reid

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