Athletics

Sachin Dennis set to miss 'Champs'

PAUL A REID
Observer Writer

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — As the debate rages as to whether or not teenage sprint phenom Sachin Dennis is preparing to switch national allegiance, there is a strong possibility that he will miss next year's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' Championships for a second year.

While denying news that Dennis, who turned 17 in August, would take his talent elsewhere, Keith Wellington, principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), said the immediate concern is whether he will be ready for 'Champs' in four months' time.

“Sachin is not healthy and there is a high possibility that he might not compete at Champs next year because of illness, not injury,” Wellington, who has been a mentor for the sprinter, told the Jamaica Observer last week.

“We are doing whatever we can within our power from medical and other perspectives,” he added.

While stating the nature Dennis's illness, Wellington said: “[It had] affected his preparation period and we have always taken a stance with Sachin that if he is not 100 per cent healthy we will not let him participate.”

Dennis, who is yet to represent the country at any level, last competed in 2018 after injuries prevented him from competing last year. Wellington said it was “a wait and see” situation as to whether the sprinter, who ran 10.20 seconds to win the Boys Class 2 100m at Champs in 2018, would be ready for the 2020 season.

Wellington was, however, adamant that Dennis was never at any time in a process to switch allegiance, despite allegations made by his mother Claudette Anderson recently on national television and despite him taking a trip to the Middle East in 2016.

“As far as I know and I think I am fairly au-fait with the situation, he is not in the process of transferring his allegiances to Bahrain or to anyone at all, not now and not two years ago,” Wellington told the Observer.

“As far as I know, and as I said I know a little bit, his intention is to represent Jamaica as soon as he is able to do so physically, and of course, if his performance merits selection to a national team,” he added.

While not denying that the youngster did travel to the Middle East in December 2016, as his mother alleged, the STETHS principal refused to go into any details.

“I dont think it is in my place to describe the private affairs of any individual and in particular an under-aged student. The mother would have spoken and I don't want to contradict the mother, whether or not I am in a position to, and the fact is that she would have spoken and any other expounding on what she said would have to be done by her.”

He continued: “As I said to [the television station] when they tried to get a comment from me, I told them I don't wish to speak to a child's personal life, and furthermore, the issues that would have been raised speaks to the young man's personal and family life. And I think I would be out of place to make comments relating to a situation as to how the mother feels about what is transpiring in her son's life.

When asked, Wellington did, however, agree that as in other areas where other professionals, in sports, academia, medicine and otherwise, have chosen to take their skills elsewhere in an effort to secure their financial futures, athletes should be allowed to do what is best for themselves and their families.

“I think the question has merit to it, especially in a sport like track and field where the sport is individual and your earning power is solely dependent on your own performance. Unlike team sports where you can have an individual contract and then represent a country as part of a team, really and truly your earning power as an athlete depends largely on what you do as an individual,” Wellington opined.

“Those athletes, who have support around them, they end up, I think, having a better opportunity to succeed professionally, so for the individual athlete, I think we should not take away their right or opportunity from them to make a decision as to where they can grow best as a professional. The footballer can always get a contract overseas and come back to represent their country even for free, but the individual athlete does not have that option,” he ended.


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