RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Stephen Francis, head coach of two of Jamaica’s top women’s gold medal contenders at Rio 2016, is again knocking heads with the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) days before the start of another major championship.
According to the Jamaica Gleaner, Francis criticised the JAAA for setting an August 8 deadline for the athletes who had requested medical exemptions to prove their fitness ahead of the Rio Olympic Games.
Elaine Thompson and Janieve Russell were both carrying injuries, but Francis revealed that the pair have recovered well and are expected to be fully fit for the start of their respective events.
Thompson, who captured the women’s 100m title at the Jamaica Trials with a world-leading time in June, was forced to skip the final of the 200m, while Russell, one of the fastest women in the 400m hurdles this season, missed the trials with a foot problem.
The pair, along with Usain Bolt and Hansle Parchment, who have already revealed their health, knew they needed to prove their fitness before being selected, so Francis has no problem making his athletes available for the JAAA mandatory tests.
However, the veteran coach warned the nation’s governing body that these medical check-ups should not interfere with his athletes’ preparations.
“They tell me it’s an ultra-sound so that is no problem,” Francis, who is the boss at the MVP Track club, said in the Jamaica Gleaner.
“Plus the training track is public, but in terms of doing anything with the athlete, which is not on their schedule, we are not going to allow it.”
Francis believes the JAAA deadline date makes no sense.
“There is no reason for that (August 8 deadline) because they have until the day before the event to declare, they can wait,” he added in the paper.
“If the hurdles start on the 15th, they can wait until the 14th, so there is no good reason for that except to set up bureaucratic guidelines to satisfy themselves.
“She (Russell) is more than a second faster than anyone else in Jamaica, she is unbeaten all year.
“She has run four races and PB-ed four times, so I don’t understand the need to rush the issue especially when the people who you are talking about are not, on current form, in their league.”