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Coaching in T&T is voluntary
Comments made in an article published yesterday in the Jamaica Gleaner headlined: Not ‘coaching against Trinidad’—Boldon hits back at claims he is ignoring T&T for regional rivals” was met with mixed reactions from National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette.
The piece included an interview with one of T&T’s most-celebrated athlete, Olympian Ato Boldon, who recently coached Jamaican junior sprinter Briana Williams, to a historic sprint double in the women’s 100m and 200m events at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, last week.
At the time, Serrette said he had not read the article which included some slighting comments from Boldon on the local track and field association and its programmes.
In the first instance, Serrette agreed with Boldon in saying that the four-time Olympic medallist is: “Not coaching against T&T.”
“He is coaching one of Jamaica’s athletes, he is not helping the Jamaican programme,” said Serrette.
“All of our top athletes are coached outside so it’s a similar situation.”
Serrette, who has been in charge of the governing body for the past 10 years, was told the article said: “Boldon is disappointed that he was not given an influential role in T&T’s track and field programme, like his counterparts from other nations, who have moved on from competing to coaching.”
With Boldon saying that: “I have watched all my peers being given leadership roles—and succeed,” he said. “Glenroy Gilbert (a former sprinter) of Canada, whom I had a conversation with on this very topic; Dennis Mitchell; Jon Drummond (both former sprinters as well), who coached the USA women to the world record in the 4x100m relays.”
For this Serrette responded by saying: “All of them have clubs in the respective countries that they are coaching,” said Serrette. “None of our coaches are paid. It is all voluntary. I do not get paid for my role either, but I am doing my part and giving it my all to ensure that the sport prosper.
“In T&T, development happens at the club level.
The existing clubs operate as ‘one man operations’ and usually the one man is the coach. The association hosts workshops and seminars designed to build capacity and improve accountability across its member clubs.
“The NAAA role is to support and provide general oversight of competitions through clubs and associations for athletes at national competitions, which we have done over the years.”
On learning that he referenced the NAAA as “mediocre,” Serrette said, “That’s Boldon’s opinion.
We had our sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye win gold at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
I’m not going to go tit-fortat with Ato.”
Boldon, won a bronze in both the 100 and 200m sprints at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA, in 1996, then a silver in the 100m and a bronze in the 200m four years later at the Sydney Games in Australia, had short stints as coach of T&T sprinters Richard Thompson and Kelly-Ann Baptiste, coached the national team previously and was appointed sports ambassador for T&T in 2000.
Boldon’s father Guy also had a local club called Gold Rush but it folded some years ago.
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