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Row over Jamaica's track and field camp

2 August 2008

By Gary Smith

A major disagreement has surfaced over Jamaica's preparation for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The row is between the Jamaica Olympic Association (JAAA) and members of the MVP Track Club who have differing views ahead a pre-Olympic training camp in Tianjin Province.

World renowned MVP coach Stephen Francis had hoped to keep his ten Jamaican athletes, which include strong medal favourites Asafa Powell, Bridgette Foster-Hylton and Melaine Walker, under his guidance for next week to compete his training schedule.

However, Francis was told by the JAAA and the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) that athletes wishing to participate at the Olympics must be present at the camp and he is upset that they are being forced to work with people he regards as inexperienced coaches.

"The way that the JAAA are forcing us to prepare for the Olympics that is not what we had in mind," Francis told local media outlets on Thursday. "We don't believe this is the ideal preparation.

"We believe the people who are doing this preparation have no clue about what they are doing they want the athletes to go with a bunch of high school coaches."

Francis also said that he believes the camp was only setup after hearing his plans earlier this year and it was to ensure that his athletes do not do well.

"They put on this camp only after hearing in February that we were planning to have our own," he said.

"I guess because they want to ensure that the athletes who I coach don't do well they decided to come up with this camp and this mandatory thing. I guess they know that the preparation I have in mind doesn't involve a camp so I guess there's a debate.

"I don't know what is going to happen but all I know is that they are doing something to try to get rid of my athletes."

The 52-member track and field contingent will be guided by head coach Glen Mills, the coach of world 100-metres record holder Usain Bolt.

Mills will be assisted by Fitzalbert Coleman, Michael Clarke, Edward Hector, Maurice Wilson and Bertland Cameron.

The Beijing Olympic Games is scheduled to run from August 8-24.

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