JA look at Com Games

The Commonwealth Games in a less than perfect world

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Today’s staging of the 34th Gibson Relays and the feverish anticipation of Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, March 24 - 27, provide reminders – if any were needed – of Jamaica’s esteemed presence in global track athletics.

After the triumphs and excitement of the last two years – the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the Berlin World Championships in 2009 – 2010 is likely to be very subdued in so far as international track and field is concerned.

In fact, the Commonwealth Games set for Delhi, India, October 3-14 and the 13th IAAF World Indoor Championships set for Doha, Qatar, between March 12 and 14 will provide the only opportunities for Jamaican athletes to compete for their country in major games.

We mustn’t forget that for individual professional athletes, the Diamond League in Europe will be of special importance because of its earning potential.

In a perfect world, the Commonwealth Games in the world’s second most populous nation with one of the fastest growing economies would provide a grand climax to the international track and field season.

This is despite the reality that the United States, Cuba, mainland Europe and African long-distance powerhouses Ethiopia and Morocco are automatically excluded since they are outside of the Commonwealth family.

But after their exploits of recent seasons, the presence of the Jamaicans in the sprints and the Kenyans in the distance events would almost certainly guarantee success for the Delhi Games.

The trouble is that those games are in October, by which time the world’s leading track athletes are usually well past their peak and many will already have ended their season.

Hence the failure, so far, of Jamaica’s top athletes, including the much-in-demand Mr Usain Bolt, to commit themselves to attending.

As we understand it, Commonwealth Games organisers had little choice but to schedule for October. For while June, July, August and early September represent the height of the international athletics season, those months are also at the height of the Indian monsoon. That’s a period during which debilitating heat and flood rains would have ruined the games.

Further, the months of March, April and May would have been considered too early for many athletes. In any case, the Commonwealth Games during spring to early summer would have been overshadowed completely by the FIFA World Cup scheduled for June/July.

We can only hope that the top athletes, including the leading Jamaicans, will find it possible to so organise their season that Delhi becomes their crowning event for 2010.