Quarrie still wants change despite failed JAAA presidential bid

Quarrie still wants change despite failed JAAA presidential bid

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

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Jamaica's 1976 Olympic Games 200m gold medallist Donald Quarrie may have lost the race in his bid to become president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), but he remains committed to serving the sport he loves and to bring about change going forward.

Having outlined his message a few weeks before the JAAA elections that was held last weekend at National Arena in Kingston, Quarrie is confident that having stated clearly the need for change it will eventually reach the ears of the main stakeholders and, indeed, the intended target.

“I'm feeling fantastic. The main thing is I hope that what I had said earlier, weeks ago, leading up to this [election], that most of it will sink in eventually into the members, into the coaches, into our athletes, as to what I was projecting.”

The five-time Olympian says that change is inevitable and hopes that it happens sooner rather than later, for the betterment of the sport locally.

“I'm looking at the future, I'm looking at the development in terms of our youngsters. We may not see the need right now, but it will catch up with us if we don't take the next step forward.

“My whole goal was to make a difference, to organise a change, to initiate a change. I'm confident, it may not be here today, but in a couple years it will come, because we may be forced to and when that change comes I think everybody will understand. I hope we don't dither too long and have to play catch-up because the world is changing.”

Quarrie insists that he would have been able to run the association despite living in the United States, contrary to some opinions that it could not be done.

“The thing about me not being here, I think eventually everyone will understand that really was never an issue. They have made it an issue, not the participants, but the JAAA.”

However, the man affectionately called DQ is confident that the seeds he has sown will eventually bear fruit and that eventually the welfare and development of the athletes will be put at the forefront.

“If I gave two per cent to the members that change is coming, I am happy, because eventually that two will become 22, it will get going and it will get to where we should be.”

He also admitted that he was thrown off by the change of plans by the now first Vice-President Ian Forbes.

“Originally, I thought Ian was going to run. When he decided he wasn't, it was a little late, but I didn't want to abandon the whole process.”

One of the main complaints of the independent candidates ahead of the elections was the lack of access to the voting members of the JAAA, and this did not sit well with Quarrie, even after the elections.

“By not having the list, definitely worked against everyone who did not have it. When you consider the individuals who had the list were the individuals who put the list together. They had the list, they had the [phone] numbers, so they were able reach out to individuals more than once.

“[They could] reach out to every individual, even individuals who maybe were not sure if they were going to vote for them. So, it made a big difference, but, I came in knowing it was late. None of us thought that we would not have the list, but it is what it is.”

And so, despite not being the official leader of Jamaica's athletics, Quarrie still plans to be the change agent he intended to be had he ascended to the post of president.

“My plan was not just to be president. My plan was to be that person that makes a change. I still have everything in order, a lot is still going to happen and a change is really going to come.”

Quarrie also blasted the archaic voting system that is still in place at the JAAA.

“I think an independent body should be running this election. In fact we were never invited. We were told that we could be a part, [but we had no say in the decision of anything that went on with this election, absolutely nothing.

“We need one sheet where you have all the names, so people who have things to do can come in here, go to the meeting, have a sheet, decide who you're voting for and we move along, instead of voting for one person, sit down, vote for another person, sit down. I think that's ridiculous, and the whole association is behind that.”

Having given back to Jamaica's athletics since retiring from the sport as a competitor, the 1970 Commonwealth Games double sprint champion says his commitment to the country's most successful sport remains as firm as ever.

“Eleven per cent of 400 members make a quorum, that's bad, but my ongoing thing will be, I'm still going to work toward making a difference. I have worked for Jamaica athletics with the JAAA and without the JAAA, so nothing changes for me as far as my dedication to the development and success of track and field in Jamaica.”

All 17 members of the Garth Gayle-led slate were voted in en bloc to serve for the next four years at the elections last Saturday. Only three positions were contested, including the post of president which was overwhelmingly won by Gayle.

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