But ISSA reminds Watson to abide by code of conductTuesday, May 18, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
The Inter-secondary School Sports Association( ISSA) has accepted an apology from Petersfield High School's Antonio Watson after he made what could be seen as an unsportsmanlike gesture to his opponent at the end of the Class One 200m finals at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Championships at the National Stadium on Saturday.
While acknowledging and accepting the apology, ISSA said, “Champs has always been a time to showcase and celebrate talent. While we encourage the colourful behaviour of victory celebrations, and acknowledge the value and excitement it brings to the Championships”, it also took the opportunity to remind student-athletes that celebration “should always be within the code of conduct that guides how we act on and off the field and track”.
Watson, who is known for his expressive celebrations and antics on the track, divided opinions during the five-day championships with celebrations during the first round and the final of the 200m.
In the final Watson came from behind in the last 50 metres to beat Edwin Allen's Bryan Levell, then mimicked a gun with his left hand and pointed it at the head of his opponent who was in the next lane.
Earlier in the championships Watson led his first-round heat of the 200m by a wide margin then mimicked driving a vehicle and changing gears as he neared the finish line.
It was the second act, however, that drew the ire of some and the praise of others, and forced him to issue an apology late Sunday evening.
In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, ISSA said it was “aware that there is a public discussion regarding the hand gestures” made by the former World Under-18 400m champion.
“We note that in his post-race interview, Antonio sought to provide an explanation for his actions after embracing his opponent. ISSA also recognises that an apology was made by the athlete and we accept his apology in recognition of our mission to use opportunities like these as teachable moments for our student-athletes to adapt socially acceptable behaviour,” the release said.
ISSA added: “As the organisers of high school sporting events we are committed to honouring the spirit of sportsmanship at all our meets and games by all our athletes and would like to remind them that there is a code of conduct to abide by and that ISSA is committed to supporting sportsmanlike behaviour.”
Having accepted that he “went too far in my celebrating” Watson said he should have known better and the apology which was sent to the various media houses on Sunday said in part: “However, I am now aware that my actions and gesture at the end of the Class One 200m final could jeopardise all that. I therefore want to unreservedly apologise to all the stakeholders, my school, fans and family for my actions.
“I have taken full responsibility for such actions as it is no way a reflection of the ethos of my school, the principles of my coach or the position of ISSA or any of the sponsors.
“Upon reflection I recognise that my gestures could have been misleading and I have no desire to negatively influence others. In fact, going forward I aspire to demonstrate positive behaviours and attitudes that will inspire countless young Jamaicans to strive for excellence and make our country a true beacon of what is good in this world.”
Yesterday, Watson, who also won the silver medal in the 100m on Thursday, told the Jamaica Observer that while he will not stop his creative celebrations, “I will go back to the drawing board and think of other ways to celebrate that will not cause people to think negatively of me.”
Watson, who won the Class One sprint double at the COCAA Western Champs three weeks ago, said “it was in the heat of the moment that I did that; I am not about crime and the gun thing at all. I am not involved in anything like that and I don't condone it either.”
He, however, pointed out that not all of the reactions were negative in nature. “Some people did not see it as bigging up crime, they saw it as me celebrating a win, which is what I was doing. I will find new ways to celebrate.”
His next assignment will be the JAAA National Senior Championships where he promises he will have something to celebrate.
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