NATIONAL Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president George Comissiong believes Aaron Antoine’s omission from Tuesday’s World Athletics Under-20 Championship men’s high jump was “unfortunate” but serves as a valuable lesson moving forward.
At the Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero in Cali, Colombia, Antoine did not compete in the qualification round because he was being prepped in the area set aside for physiotherapy when the call to report for the start of the event was made.
According to the NAAAs, this area is approximately 300 metres away from the call room and it was difficult for the athlete to hear announcements. Having failed to respond in a timely manner, a decision was taken to debar Antoine from competing. A protest was made by TT team manager Michelle Stoute for his inclusion but it was denied by the jury of appeal.
Comissiong said this error, although regrettable, is a crucial learning experience, for not only the athlete but also team staff.
“As unfortunate as it is, there are some valuable takeaways from the incident. One of the main ones being that every member of the technical staff must understand his/her role in the successful participation of the team.
“The incident also identifies need for greater focus by NAAA in preparing team members for international competition. The traditional focus has been on the athletes’ physical and mental preparation for the respective events.
“We are now presented with an opportunity to focus on requirements and procedures of specific roles in supporting the athletes’ participation during competition,” Comissiong said from his UK base on Wednesday.
Comissiong is currently with the TT track and field team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
He added that the focus of the NAAA and team management is to ensure that Antoine is “not overly distraught” and that all members of the delegation remain focused and return home safely.
Comissiong confirmed that the team manager’s report will be submitted after the Championships.
“However, based on communications with the Team Manager one can understand how the situation developed.
“Every host city and venue present unique logistical challenges and successful participation at international meets requires coordination of several activities between and among athletes, technical support personnel and meet officials. The margin for error is very slim,” he closed.