NOC Rebuffs Claims They Have Ignored Pleas For Support From National Athlete

Secretary General of the NOC, Cliff Williams (left), greets Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew during the staging of last year’s National Sports Awards. (Photo courtesy Ministry of Sports)
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By Neto Baptiste

Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee (NOC), Cliff Williams, has responded to claims by national athlete, Jess St John that her pleas for financial assistance from the organisation have fallen on deaf ears.

In an interview with OBSERVER media Williams said the NOC has, over the past two years, been in dialogue with the athlete but is awaiting the submission of an official form requesting support through the body’s scholarship programme.

“Jess St. John was one of the athletes that we at the NOC recognised as one of the top tier athletes that deserves to be on the scholarship by the National Olympic Committee. However, for the three athletes, we have to still assess them in terms of slotting them to a price bracket. Both of the other athletes, in Jody Maginley and Alston Ryan, they returned their forms to us, but however, to date we haven’t received a form from Jess St. John in terms of her applying to be confirmed for the scholarship,” he said.

Williams said the NOC has also been in constant dialogue with the appointed rep for all athletes in Antigua, sprinter Daniel Bailey regarding the issue.

“We have been following up and as a matter of fact, when I submitted the form it was copied to the athletics association but I am not certain as how much follow up they would have done from their end, but the athletes representative, Daniel Bailey who is doing a fine job in that position, he has been following up with her in recent times. In communication with the office, I told him exactly what she needs to do and to date, she hasn’t submitted that to us,” he said.

The Secretary General said a full reevaluation will more than likely be carried out before a decision could be made regarding the athlete.

“From our records, the last time we know of Jess competing was 2018 at the Commonwealth Games but I think it would take a whole other reassessment and especially with the Covid 19 where everyone has been out of commission for us to even, when we receive the form, to be able to give a definite [answer] as to if she would be eligible now. We would have to communicate with the athletics association and get a thorough report in terms of the level of athlete she is now, especially after the last competition was in 2018,” Williams said. In an interview with OBSERVER media, the national shot-putter said she had reached out to both the NOC and the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) in hopes of securing funding but that to date, she has not received any positive word.

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