Quarrie determined to make a difference - JAAA presidential hopeful outlines plans for athletics body
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) presidential aspirant and legendary Jamaican sprinter, Donald Quarrie, has raised serious questions about the fairness of the JAAA’s election process, and is promising, if elected, to revolutionise the track and field body with a modern approach to administration.
Quarrie, who will go up against current general secretary Garth Gayle for the top spot, lists integrity, financial stability, greater inclusion of athletes and other stakeholders, more focus on the island’s development of elite youth talent, stronger international relations and increased opportunities for coaches, officials and other members of the athletics fraternity, as key pillars of his campaign.
“My goal is to make a difference, make a change. The change is not about me, it’s about all of us. We are so far behind in a lot of the things that we do within the JAAA – it’s a shame really,” said Quarrie, the 1976 Olympic 200m champion and 100m silver medal winner
“I have the talent, I have made the contacts. I can reach out internationally and I can reach out locally to corporate entities. I have always said to the JAAA, use me, and they don’t. So I have decided I need to make a change. I will not sit back, allow this to continue and just complain. I am going to do something about it and I believe I am a lot more qualified to get this done,” said Quarrie, in explaining his reasons for offering himself to serve as JAAA president.
He is, however, concerned with a number of elements within the process that will determine the next president of the organisation at Saturday’s annual general meeting at the National Arena.
Among his concerns is a claim that candidates in the election are also in charge of determining the membership list, pointing to a conflict of interest and a potential advantage to those candidates.
Outgoing JAAA president Dr Warren Blake dismissed the issue, noting that the affairs of the association must continue to be managed by its executive, while pointing to an Elections Appeal Panel, chaired by attorney Keith Bishop, as an additional safeguard against any unfair advantage to a candidate.
“Those complaints were raised in a letter from Donald (Quarrie). I have written to him (Quarrie) and asked him to produce the evidence for the allegations and I have not gotten a response, now close to 24 hours, since I wrote that letter,” said Blake yesterday evening. “If he fails to provide evidence, he is simply bringing the federation into disrepute.”
“You cannot complain that the executive, in doing their duty, is acting in a biased way, without showing evidence that they are biased,” Blake added.
“All administrations have to administer and manage, and that’s what we are doing. In 2004, he (Quarrie) was in a team that sought office, and the same procedure used now is the same procedure used then, when he became a committee member,” added another member of the executive who asked not to be named.
Meanwhile, Quarrie also pointed to what he described as the association’s unwillingness to facilitate remote voting, as a clear indication of its inability to operate to First-World standards, and believes it alienates a large portion of the JAAA membership.
“We should be able to contact anyone we want around the world, with the technology that is available. But it’s either they (JAAA) can’t do it, or they refuse to. Athletes speak out and talk about what they want and, if too many athletes speak out, it’s not going to be good for them,” said Quarrie, who pointed to the absence of athletes like Merlene Ottey from the national programme as a clear failure to engage the island’s representatives and utilise their skills and influence.
Another key plan for Quarrie involves a re-energised approach to development and the national youth programme, which would include extended training and competition opportunities.
“I think the JAAA has taken too much for granted. My plan involves a proposal to ISSA, because I think that is where a lot of our young athletes develop from. I would want to team up with ISSA, get their advice and input, in putting a structure together with the JAAA to have continuous development of our elite athletes,” said Quarrie, who is proposing regular training camps for top local youth athletes.
“Our development programme, what have we done about it? Why is there a void among our male sprinters? That is because we did nothing about it. We assumed everything would be okay. This group of athletes that are now moving on came from a programme that moulded them and got them going. We should never lose the ability to keep our elite athletes at a high level.”
As at the September 30, 2020 cut-off date, there are 261 duly registered individual members, and 34 clubs, eligible to vote at Saturday’s AGM. The full JAAA membership consists of 446 individual members and 42 clubs.