Gayle, Quarrie in race for JAAA presidency

Observer writer

Saturday, November 28, 2020

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GARTH Gayle was beaming with confidence yesterday that he will be the next president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) at the end of today's annual general meeting (AGM) at National Arena, set to get under way at 9:00 am.

The long-serving honorary secretary is seeking to replace the outgoing Dr Warren Blake who served for nine years before deciding to step down earlier this year, and Gayle, who also serves on World Athletics' Technical Committee, thinks that he will not only beat Olympic hero Donald Quarrie in the run-off, but his entire slate will be voted in as well.

“I am very confident that the transformation team that I will be leading will be successful at the polls [today]. We have been meeting with the delegates; we have had two road shows — one at St Elizabeth Technical on Saturday that went very well and then a second one in Kingston at Jamaica College that also went very well,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

His rival, Quarrie was equally optimistic. “I am confident that the members that I spoke with understand that a change is badly needed. I am hoping that the information through the print, broadcast and Internet media was able to reach the members that I was not able to speak with directly. So far I have accomplished a lot, because I was able to sensitise the members, the public and corporate Jamaica, who are now aware that there is great need for structure, business transparency and a greater focus on athlete commitment and development and trust.”

Meanwhile, all three 'independent' candidates, those who are not on Gayle's slate, have complained about obstructions thrown in their way, as well as enduring “acts that were not unconstitutional but were against the spirit of fair play”.

Three hundred and twenty-five delegates are eligible to vote today, 261 individual members and 32 club/affiliates who each have two votes. Earlier this week, Dr Blake told the media they got special permission to stage the meeting that will have more people than is allowed under the Disaster Risk Management Act which limits gatherings to just 15 people.

It is understood that strict sanitisation protocols will have to be in place and persons will have to be seated at least six feet apart.

Just three of the 17 positions on offer today will be voted on — president, honorary secretary and director of the bureau of records.

Veteran and well-respected sports administrator Anthony Davis will take on the long-serving Assistant Secretary Marie Tavares for the post of honorary secretary, while result system operator Wayne Long takes on Leroy Cooke for the director of the bureau of records post.

Former Vice-President Brian Smith, who was recently a part of the Jamaica Softball Association, will be the new assistant secretary while all four vice-presidents — Ian Forbes, Lincoln Eatmon, Michael Frater and Vilma Charlton — as well as Honorary Treasurer Ludlow Watts will retain their positions on the executive.

The committee members who will also run unchallenged will be Dr Carl Bruce, Ewan Scott, Judith Ewart, Heleen Francis, athlete Fedrick Dacres, Gregory Hamilton, Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association President Keith Wellington, and Julette Parkes Livermore.

Gayle, who is also the principal of Charlemont High School, said the delegates and members “have been accepting and are responding very positively to the message in the manifesto, and we are assured that we will take track and field to the next level because we are working for the athletes first and foremost as well as to uplift the sport of track and field in Jamaica, regionally and internationally”.

Quarrie campaigned on the theme that the athletes, coaches and officials have to be the priority for any administration that he would lead, and said he had a number of corporate entities ready to invest in the sport.

Davis, who was director of sports at the University of Technology until he retired last year, told the Observer that while campaigning he “got the opportunity to hear views of some of the affiliates and felt encouraged by the confidence they expressed in my ability to contribute to making the JAAA more receptive to increasing the membership, particularly among the athletes, officials and coaches”.

He said given his long history in similar positions, “There is a view I will not be a paper-shuffling honorary secretary but one who is innovative and have a clear vision on how best to execute the policies of the executive. One common sentiment among the delegates is the need for change, as too many of the same persons are up for election and running unopposed. Persons [are] also unhappy that the contact list was not shared; while the act was not unconstitutional it was against the spirit of fair play.”

Long echoed similar sentiments as Davis did when he spoke to the Observer yesterday. “It feels like they are running a 100m sprint and I'm running 110m hurdles. But I knew that before I entered the race and I knew my 110 time was much faster than their 100m time, so what they have done is put additional hurdles in my lane. Hopefully I will still be able to get to the finish line first.”

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