Three Jamaican athletes have filed requests to represent Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, according to the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). The allegations are that the move is mainly regarding financial security. This is the first time multiple athletes have made a request at once.
400m World Championship and Olympic silver medallist Shericka Williams including emerging sprinters Kemarley Brown and Andrew Fisher are reportedly in the final stages of completing the process of representing Bahrain at the next Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, a JAAA spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.
The athletes, who had written to the organisation declaring their desire to represent the Middle East archipelago over a month ago, supposedly made the decision due to lack of support from corporate Jamaica, JAAA and the Government.
Unlike our star athletes, these emerging stars are struggling to pay for coaching, expensive medical treatment, rent and nutrition, taxes as well as support their families out of small contracts.
Kemar Bailey-Cole, 2014 Commonwealth 100m champion, has recently signalled that Jamaica could lose more of its elite athletes to countries willing to pay for their talents if more is not done. “We are not getting the support from our association, and many of us are living off small contracts,” he said. However, JAAA General Secretary Garth Gayle said, “We would love to do much more,” “But we are 95 percent volunteers working with a limited financial budget.”
There have been reported cases where athletes, who have switched allegiance to these countries have received, in some instances up to US$5,000 a month for life and additional bonuses for records, according to the Gleaner.
Any athlete is allowed to compete for another country, according to IAAF rule 5.4, but they will have to sit out for 12 months once their request is approved. If there is an objection, the athlete would then need to wait for three years before representing their new country.