By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, has rubbished claims by national shot-put athlete Jess St John, that he harbours a personal gripe against her.
St John recently accused Cornelius of sidelining her because of an incident at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Australia where she publicly accused the association of providing what she called inadequate competition attire.
The president, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Tuesday, denied the athlete’s claims, stating he has remained professional in his dealing with her.
“I deal with the issues at the point in time, and once I make a decision and move on, then I don’t hold things against people. I do not have the time of day to hold anything against any athlete or any administrator in athletics, so once we have a discussion, we make a decision and we move forward and everything is back to normal, that’s the way I operate,” he said.
In recounting the 2018 incident, Cornelius said, the athlete was dishonest with what really transpired, and that the association was plotting against her.
“I am a person who speaks direct to people, I don’t play around, and I tell you exactly what I am thinking, so you are not going to hear Mano say this behind your back. I sat down Jess and I told her exactly how I felt about it because she was lying and she should not have done that,” he said.
“I was the one who took Jess’ uniform to her. I asked Jess to try it on and make sure it could work. She went in, tried it on and came back and said it was ok, and then I was hearing all this foolishness going on, so I called her to my room and I had a meeting with her in the presence of the chef de mission at the time and some other officials who were there from the NOC, and I told her, point blank, how I feel about what she did because that day when that stuff broke, and I will tell you the truth, I went to a meeting and I told them to buy Jess a ticket back home and send her back to Antigua,” the president added.
In a recent interview, St John said she could switch allegiance to either the US Virgin Islands (USVI) or USA after issues with securing funding from the National Olympic Committee (NOC).