Calabar High School wishes to take the opportunity to address some lingering misunderstandings concerning one if its student ambassadors who represented Jamaica at the recently concluded IAAF U20 World Championships. Now that the event is behind us, we wish to state our understanding of what might have led to the confusion regarding the event Christopher Taylor was scheduled to run.
From our vantage point Mr. Taylor, who had the privilege of captaining the Jamaican team, has been preparing to run the 200m as his primary event of focus this year. This would have been evident in the number of 200m races he ran during the season, vis-a-vis the 400m, including at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships. It would therefore not be difficult to appreciate why his focus for the World U20 Championships was on the 200m event.
With regard to the World U20 Championships and the trials to select the team, young Taylor received a telephone call from a JAAA official on the morning of June 12, the day of the press conference to launch the trials. During that conversation, the matter of his participation at the trials - where he was entered to run the 200m at the Junior trials and wished also to run the 400m at the Senior trials - was discussed. The impression was formed that, inasmuch as he was the owner of the three fastest times in the world over 200m, that a bye would have been given to allow him to run just one event, which would be the 400m at the Senior trials. We are all aware of Taylor’s exploits as a 400m specialist and an important element of his goals for this season was to improve his personal best for that event. This impression regarding the bye was clearly not only Taylor’s, as reports carried in the media, including a SportsMax report by Leighton Levy, dated June 12, 2018, made reference to this development.
The first sign that something may have been amiss occurred when Taylor arrived at the German embassy on June 26, 2018 to apply for the Schengen visa to facilitate his travel to Finland, and the officer pointed out to him that their list indicated he was entered to run the 400m. Assurances were given by JAAA officials, when the discrepancy was subsequently pointed out to them, that it would be rectified. Taylor proceeded to Finland and learned, shortly after his arrival that the matter, while not yet rectified, was still being attended to. Sometime thereafter, however, he received word that it was too late to have the entry changed and he would have no option but to participate in the 400m.
Frankly, based on subsequent reports, this matter could have been clarified long before Taylor and the team left Jamaica. In fact, at the time of the enquiry which was made based on his findings at the German embassy, the rules which were subsequently cited to justify his non-entry in the 200m could have been rehearsed for the benefit of Taylor and his team.
Understandably, young Taylor was quite distressed and upset by the entire situation and the way in which it was handled, but eventually his patriotic commitment superseded his personal disappointment and he decided to answer the call of his country. We salute him for his mature handling of this situation and ask the country to continue to offer him their best wishes as he develops.
Having regard to the series of events that gave rise to this unfortunate situation, we take responsibility for placing emphasis on someone’s word as against requiring written confirmation. We have sought to encourage those from our end who are close to the situation, including young Taylor, while not being unduly distrustful of persons’ verbal commitments, to insist on appropriate documentation in the future.
We use this opportunity as well to further advise that our checks with Coach Michael Clarke concerning his role in this debacle as a reported member of the JAAA’s selection panel, has revealed his stated ignorance of the fact of his membership in said panel, as well as an unequivocal denial of suggested complicity in misleading Christopher with regard to the event for which he was entered.
Permit us to commend the JAAA for its continuing role in developing and facilitating the sport and to encourage them to remain unrelenting their efforts to improve their organization and apparatus as time unfolds.