Coaches welcome relay rule change

THE 2018 track and field season got running on Saturday with the staging of three development meets across the island as coaches used the opportunities to test their charges following the long Christmas break.

At the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association held in November, secretary Garth Gayle, who was elected to the North America, Central America and Caribbean Technical officials panel for 2018 to 2021, revealed several new technical rule changes of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

One of the main changes will be Rule 170.3, which has to do with the exchange zone for sprint relays. The rule change means that the 4×100 metres will no longer have an acceleration zone of 10m, but the entire exchange zone will be 30m.

On January 20 at the Central Hurdles and Relay Meet at G.C. Foster College, coaches will get the first opportunity to put this new rule to test as the 4x100m relay will be one of the events that will be on the programme.

Head coach of Jamaica’s senior team and the man in charge of Sprintec Track Club, which is based at G.C. Foster College in Spanish Town, Maurice Wilson, said that this is a good idea.

“I am a traditionalist, and I thought the old rule brought about some sophistication, a high level of mastery and competence to the sport. For the youngsters, the new rule will be less complicated to master and youngsters will be able to compete in a more tension-free environment,” opined Wilson.

Calabar High School head coach Michael Clarke said that the new move is a step in the right direction. “For it to be made official by the IAAF, it must be a step in a positive direction for greater efficiencies in passing and receiving, with the end result being faster relay times and a more attractive brand for the industry of Track and Field for all, the paying public and athletes,” said Clarke.

Michael Dyke, head coach of winning ISSA GraceKennedy Girls Championship team Edwin Allen High, loves the new change.” This is extremely good, especially for the younger athletes. There will be less disqualification here as with the previous rule. Athletes at the younger age were a bit confused and now everyone will be more relaxed as the only thing I see happening negatively now is the baton dropping. Coaches will now get to strategize easier as they have an entire 30m to use up,” he stated.

“I think it is a good move as based on the makeup of the team , a coach might want to have the exchange done early. It also eliminates the nervousness of the change happening before the end of the zone,” echoed Michael Vassell, coach of Excelsior High School.

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