The outcome to the women’s recent 100m hurdles non-race at Jamaica’s recent national senior and junior trials was a major embarrassment.
Danielle Williams, Jamaica’s number 1 sprint hurdler in recent years, had clearly false started and was given the red card by officials to vacate the track. But she refused to walk away and this led to chaos, lengthy delays and poor leadership by the track officials.
Eventually the race was cancelled after another debacle where the runners (Williams had finally walked away) were recalled late by the starter. By then Janeek Brown had run most of the race and quite rightly in frustration removed her shoes and headed off the track to the stands.
Williams’ management team should advise her to issue an apology to Jamaican fans, her competitors and officials for her unprofessional behaviour. For a seasoned athlete such as Williams to throw her toys out of the pram over her mistake was disrespectful to the other competitors. Some of whom such as Janeek Brown and Amoi Brown were about to run the most important race of their young professional careers.
(We saw recently at Olso’s Diamond League where top American sprint hurdler Brianna Rollins, false started and simply walked away from the blocks.)
Some local fans and sport journalists have vented their blame at the track officials and in particular starter, Ludlow Watt. Their view is that given Williams’ standing as Jamaica’s top sprint hurdler, Watt should have allowed her back in the race. Some openly admit they expect Jamaican officials to do their best to give top athletes preferential treatment whatever the track violation they have committed. They feel that the priority of the starter is make sure that the top athletes qualify for major international events.
As Jamaica’s most senior sprint hurdler, Williams should have set a better example to her younger competitors and simply left the track with grace and honour.
Williams and her coach Lennox Graham should be reprimanded by the local governing body Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association ( JAAA) for bringing the sport into disrepute. For one thing coaches are not allowed on the track during an IAAF meet and Graham was clearly seen by the start area in conversation with officials.
But the starter, Ludlow Watt, too should also face sanctions for failing to control the situation more effectively and swiftly. But Watt is not likely to face any disciplinary action and this brings me on to a quirk within the setup of the JAAA.
Watt is not only an official chief starter but also treasurer for the JAAA. How can it be that track officials are allowed to be members of the JAAA board? Such a conflict of interest does not sit right. It’s like saying a top football referee is also a board member of the governing body FIFA.
The JAAA president needs to decide whether Watt is more effective to Jamaica’s athletics as treasurer or as a starter. But he should not continue to perform both roles in the long term.
As for the false start rule, I hate it. It is too harsh and robs the paying public of seeing their sprint stars who tend to be the marquee performers at such events. The rule is unfair on the sprinters given that field athletes can get away with foul jumps/throws but track athletes get no 2nd chance for their violation.
Special mention to Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and rising 17 year old sensation, Brianna Williams, for giving Jamaican fans a classic in the women’s 100 metres at the trials. One for the ages.
Latest: August 2019 – Danielle Williams eligible for World Champs selection – JAAA.
No Diamond League guarantees for Williams – JAAA president addresses sprint hurdler’s World Champs chances