Traves Smikle, the future of Jamaica’s discus will participate in the first of three competitions in California today, as he seeks to get the ‘A’ qualifying standard for the Olympic Games later this year in London, England.
In a smart forward thinking move, Smikle’s coach Julian Robinson realised that staying here and training would not be sufficient to get the 19 -year- old ready for the level of competition he will face later this year on his way to London, and so they tried to find competitions that they thought would help him.
The Jamaica Olympic Association bought into the plan and funded the trip, eliminating one major potential hurdle.
Undoubtedly, this must be the way forward if we are to continue the development of the so-called non-traditional events like the throws and even the jumps for those who chose to stay here and train, rather than go the US college route.
However, while the talented Smikle is still chasing the ‘A’ standard of 65.00m, another Jamaica thrower Jason Morgan has already secured his seat on the plane to London after improving his National Record to 65.61m at a low- keyed meet in Louisiana on Good Friday.
Unlike Smikle however, Morgan, the National Record holder and the man who has flown the flag for discus throwers, is still awaiting some form of financial assistance from either the JOA, the JAAA or corporate Jamaica.
It is nothing short of a national disgrace that an athlete who has served Jamaica so faithfully for so long has to be begging handouts.
It is shameful that someone who has given everything to keep his country’s flag flying in one of the toughest events on the track and field schedule, has been ignored for years despite his constant pleas for some assistance.
Morgan who has broken the National Record three times since 2007 has to work a full time job to provide for his wife and family, then train in his spare time to compete against people who get funding and train full time.
Even with this great disadvantage, Morgan’s distances in competition have proven he can hold his own against the top people in his event.
Imagine if he got some help, to buy supplements or to get to meets where he is not competing against college students in Louisiana, or to pay entry fees?
The less than desired treatment being meted out to Morgan by the JAAA and others could dissuade youngsters with potential from taking up the sport.