By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, has denied reports that young female sprinter Soniya Jones was, at the final hour, cut from a national team that represented the twin-island state at the NACAC Championships held in Mexico from 5th to 7th July.
Cornelius was responding to claims made last week by the athlete’s coach and father, Evans Jones, who said that Soniya’s mother, Sonia Williams, was informed just days before the team’s scheduled departure that their daughter was no longer part of the team due to financial constraints.
“We had a meeting to make a final decision on how we’re going to move forward, so don’t blame me if you don’t come to the meeting to find out what the final decision is; that’s your problem, not mine. Everybody was invited to the meeting and the final decision was made as to exactly the athletes we would have been sending to the meet and we didn’t have a financial constraint to determine whether we were going to send x or y,” he said.
“We have a programme to run for the entire duration of the year where our athletes are concerned and we have to make decisions according to our programme and give Antigua the best representation we can give,” he added.
Floor member with the athletics association and coach, Jamille Nelson, who called in during the discussion one week ago, pointed to financial constraints as to why Soniya had been cut from the team.
He added that a decision was also made not to send the intended chaperone, Joann Small, owing to the financial constraints.
Cornelius said Nelson was speaking based only from his personal understanding and not that of the association.
“You had a discussion with Jamille and Jamille told you something based on his understanding of what it is but I am giving you the bottom line as it is. The decisions made were made by the athletics association and we move forward. Anything else said outside of that, then I don’t want to discuss that because it doesn’t make any sense really,” he said.
Cornelius said he has not dialogued with the athlete or her parents since returning from Mexico on Sunday nor does he have any immediate plans to do so.