An opposition lawmaker used the floor of Parliament yesterday to charge that the State has not been doing enough for sports persons.Everald Warmington claimed that young athletes are only recognised by the Government at the time of their performance or when they return to Jamaica, and are then forgotten.He said that in recognition of the performance of our young athletes, the Government is to establish a special programme geared at providing for the further education and welfare of young athletes.He said in Parliament yesterday that very often, the State only concerns itself with having motorcades and having special holidays for athletes after they have performed well.”Very little is done for them by the Government to help their welfare and education,” he said.The South West St Catherine MP said that if the Government stepped up to the plate, “they would no longer have to be on the streetside selling bananas after they performed exceptionally well for this country”.Cabinet in December approved the establishment of the Jamaican Athletes Insurance Plan to provide group health and life and personal accident insurance for 1,323 athletes.Guardian Life Insurance and Allied Insurance Brokers have been selected to provide coverage for the athletes. The Jamaica Athletes Insurance Plan has received funding from the Sports Development Foundation, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the National Health Fund, and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.Natalie Neita Headley, minister with responsibility for sports, said at a Jamaica House press briefing last November that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association and the Sports Development Foundation had been supportive of the athletes’ welfare, and since 2001, the amount spent for the development and welfare of the athletes increased from $670,000 to $9 million in 2013.
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Having swept the top three positions in the men’s one mile open run at the highly rated Gibson/McCook Relays at the National Stadium last Saturday, coach Milton Sergeant believes his Maximum Aerobic Club will be an exciting project in coming years. The Spalding-based athletes Chadoye Dawson was first in four minutes 20.15 seconds; followed by Kevin Campbell, 4:22.46′ and Ainsworth Daley 4:23.45. Kingston College’s Shane Buchanan (4:24.87) was fourth. Added to Saturday’s triumph, they were winning their fourth consecutive title. They won the 4x800m at the S.W. Isaac Henry Invitational, Central and Hurdles Relays and Western Relays, respectively. “I would like to see these athletes being able to compete with the elite athletes of Kenya and other parts of the world because it is believed we are only good in the sprints. But I believe that we can also do well in the middle distances, especially in the 800 and 1500 metres,” Sergeant shared. The club started last year and Sergeant, who has been coaching for about 12 years, has seven male athletes at the club where he works alongside assistant Jason Clowson. “This is my passion. I was an 800, 1500 and 5,000-metre athlete. I’ve always been producing middle distance athletes who have been producing well at Champs,” he told The Gleaner in an interview. Sergeant ran for Holmwood Technical during his early years and has since coached at his alma mater, as well as Foga Road and Spalding High schools. “At present I have seven men that I am working with. Most of them are under the age of 24. The bulk of them are athletes I have already coached in high school and have already gone like one minute, 51.55 seconds. We are really seeing if I can basically start an Olympic cycle program for them, so I am looking for them in the next four years to be running 3:36 and 800s in 1:43 or 1:44,” he pointed out. Presently, Sergeant admits he gets very’ good’ support from Ludlow Watts. Otherwise, he is funding his project by himself and calls for assistance. “I am doing it basically by myself. One Mr Ludlow Watts is giving me very good assistance. There are times when I would call them and they would give me track shoes and spikes and he believes in the program.” He added that Watts, a treasurer of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), has encouraged his dream and helped him out with two of his athletes getting about $30,000 per month from the JAAA.