By Neto Baptiste
The father and coach of one national athlete who was “dropped” from the country’s track and field team to this weekend’s NACAC Championships in Mexico, has blamed “poor planning” by the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) for his daughter’s dilemma and has called on corporate Antigua to assist in getting the athlete to the annual championships.
Former national athlete Evans Jones, said his daughter Soniya Jones was informed through her mother Sonia Williams on Monday this week, that she had been cut from the team owing to a lack of finances to purchase her ticket.
“This weekend would have been the under-18 and under-23 and then two weeks after that you have the Pan Am juniors and then another week or so after that you have Pan Am seniors and had we planned properly, even approached the ministry — because most of the times the athletics association does not have the funding for themselves and they depend on the NOC mainly and also the government. I am saying that if we had proper constructive planning then all these things would have been in the pipeline because we know all the major meets this year,” he said.
Jones said his daughter, although disappointed, is still in high spirits.
“She is still upbeat and I told her on Monday that we are not training anymore and she said, no, she still wants to train so being the dad that I am and the coach, I just persevere with her because she insisted to me that she wants to continue,” he said.
“I have not been communicated to by the athletics association neither verbally, written, emailed or WhatsApp since last year prior to her departing to Youth Olympics,” the father and coach added.
Floor member with the athletics association and coach, Jamille Nelson, explained that the undertaking proved more expensive than originally thought.
“When we last went to purchase the tickets they were US $4,000 each and that’s leaving Antigua. The travel agent tried every other way and we also tried going online to see if it would be any different and there wasn’t any difference. So it was not only the choice to withdraw the athlete but also the official because if we had sent the official and not the athlete, it would have been a totally different conversation and then, we can’t send the athlete by herself as a minor. It also drove the decision not to send a coach from Antigua,” he said.
Female sprinters, Joella Lloyd and Bliss Soleyn, along with male sprinter Coull Graham – all based outside of Antigua – will compete at the noted championships.
Lloyd will compete in the 100 and 200 meters sprints in the under-18 division, while Soleyn will compete in the under-23 sprints, covering the 100 and 200 events.
The event will run from 5-7 July.