On your mark, get set, NO! - Controversy at the Jamaica Trials

Controversy at the most recent staging of the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Athletic Championships as officials were forced to abandon the Women's 100m hurdles.

The new rule - one false start and you're disqualified - has sparked a lot of controversy since its establishment. Several athletes expressed their disdain while some, including the great Usain Bolt have expressed their satisfaction with it. However, the most recent National Championships, also called the National trials, had a suitable name - it was all trials and tribulations for the officials.

Silence swept over the frenzied crowd like a Mexican wave. It was time for another final. Tension loomed, getting into the skins of fans, deeper than any of the mosquitoes present. “On your mark”... “Set”... Bop, Bop! It was not the gunshot that meant go… it was the gunshot that meant no! Former IAAF World Champion Danielle Williams was shown the red card.

I could have never imagined a stadium getting more silent than our National Stadium. Until silence turned into gasps. Williams refused to leave. All that pent up emotion. Years of training. Blood, sweat, tears - we all know the formula, but the results weren't supposed to be this. What a calamity!

However, after several miserable minutes, Danielle left, almost as if she knew that another person named Williams would finish the controversy for her. “On your mark”... “Set”... “NO!” While other athletes darted out of the blocks Shimarya Williams decided to stay in hers. Nervous to false start… or avenging Danielle? The race was underway anyway and Janeek Brown triumphantly crossed the finish line… only the race never actually happened. In what ended up being an imaginary race for Megan Tapper who ran for 70 metres and Janeek Brown who actually crossed the line, all the opponents had stopped running. The race wasn't timed.

In essence, there was no real race. The athletes who were running were unaware that others weren't running. If Obeah was legalized, one would probably think that it was responsible for the series of events that occurred after. Several athletes got injured during the unofficial race, causing the event to be abandoned. But it was no Obeah. It was human error.

Rules are rules and they must be obeyed if you are to participate fairly. Whether or not Ms. Williams was rightfully disqualified, she was disqualified. It is not proper sporting etiquette to delay the proceedings. I understand the work that was put in and how terrible it must feel. One may even think the rule itself is unfair. But at the end of the day, at that very moment, the rule was what it was, and it was deemed to be broken by the only persons who had the power to say it was - the officials. Such is the nature of sports. Champion today, unable to compete tomorrow. Williams' career is by no means over and she will surely rebound from this. I just hope next time it won't have to be as controversial.

-Fabrizio Darby



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