ISSA boss relieved at successful staging of Champs
...hopeful no spread of COVID-19 results from 5-day meetTuesday, May 18, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
MINUTES before 4:00 pm on Saturday, with Jamaica College and Edwin Allen High School having secured the boys' and girls' titles at the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships, ISSA President Keith Wellington was a pleased man.
The St Elizabeth Technical High School principal described the feeling as “mixed”, as while they were happy they got through the five days of competition they had one thing left to find out, whether there had been any spread of COVID-19 during the event.
This was the first Champs in a long time to be held during a pandemic and under strict, some would say severe, protocols after planning started last year and had to be adjusted at least twice due to the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The 110th staging of Champs saw a number of changes this year, including shorter days that were scheduled to end just after 5:30 pm Tuesday to Friday, and 3:30 pm on Saturday.
There were also less athletes, up to a third of the usual 3,000 complement, in keeping with the request of the government agencies to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus after the event was cancelled last year.
“I am having mixed feelings,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Saturday. “Relieved that it's over but really excited and really proud of the team and all the effort that they put in.”
Wellington listed a number of stakeholders who made the venture a success. “I would want to include in the team all the schools that participated, the athletes, the coaches, the principals and the board chairmen that allowed the kids to train and to ensure that they got this opportunity. All our sponsors, everybody involved.
“This was a total national effort. All the state agencies that did the monitoring and made suggestions and tried to ensure that this was done in the proper way, I think this was really, really what we wanted. We wanted that to be something that Jamaica could be proud of and that everybody could look at and say, 'This is how things are to be done' – and I think we were able to accomplish this.”
Despite their best efforts at testing and sanitising, the ISSA president was however mindful of the possibility of the spread of the virus during the event. “I think there is only one thing left to know – how it went and to see if there were any adverse effects from this. However, I am confident that things went really well but the proof of the pudding is in its eating.”
As was expected, things did not go as smoothly as it looked from the outside, he said. “There were a few hiccups. If we are talking about the competitions area, I think there were some issues with how we were able to stay on schedule for the first two days. But we resolved those over the last three days and things went a lot better.
“We had a little hiccup in terms of trying to get things done the proper way from the office. Like the identification cards and the restrictions that we had on access was in place but, to be honest, I don't think there were many things that we were not able to overcome – and even if we were not prepared for them, I think we overcame them,” he said.
“And I think everyone understood that there may have been issues. And I have to big up the coaches because, while there were issues, you did not get people not understanding that these are things that we can work through and that is all we can ask.”
Wellington said they are not expecting to have another Champs under these circumstances. “We are hoping this will be the first and last time we will have a Champs like this. We are hoping this is something we are going to build on, and even if the issues remain like they are now or similar, I am sure that we will be able to do things a little bit different.”
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