CONRAD JENKINS, president of the Jamaica Taekwondo Federation, in response to martial artist Nicholas Dusard’s claims of bias, has issued a press release outlining criteria used in selecting Jamaica’s two-man team for a Pan Am Olympic qualifying tournament in Mexico this week.However, the criteria, prepared by sole selector Jenkins, conflicted with an audio recording of a team meeting during which Dusard had challenged him about his non-selection after trials at the National Indoor Sports Centre on February 26.Dusard, who won the -68 kg category at the February 22-26 trials, complained in a story published in The Gleaner on March 3, that he was denied a chance to compete at -80 kg and was never told that current world rankings would have been a determinant.A subsequent press release, sent by Howard Chin, general secretary, JTF, on behalf of Jenkins, stated three criteria used in selection – results from the 2016 US and Canada Opens, WTF Olympic ranking and ‘athletes with the best competition management and with the least or no illegal acts in the fight offs’.Speaking to The Gleaner after Dusard’s claims, Jenkins insisted the three criteria listed in his press release were the only determinants.However, during an audio recording presented by Dusard, the JTF president was heard singing a different tune when challenged by the fighter, admitting he had not mentioned the use of rankings before the fight offs.In addition, Jenkins went on to explain, at length, to Dusard and the other fighters that accomplishments in competitions “over the years” were also a factor, a criterion not included in his press release list of three.”If it was mentioned, it made no sense none of the -68s fought. If we knew it would have come down to rankings, Raymond, Bruce and I, we had no chance,” Dusard was heard saying on the recording.”A chance should have been given for us to maybe step up to Craig or Jason’s weight class to fight off for that spot. Based on what is happening now, none of the -68 people had a chance of going, so we came here to fight for no reason,” he added, at which point Jenkins interjected.”I understand what you’re saying, you’re expressing a good concern but let me take it another step. The ranking is just one but it’s more than the ranking. When you assess, the second leg of the ranking, let’s put the ranking aside, the second leg of it, we’re dealing with number two, who has been competing and awarded medals in fights over the last couple of years,” the JTF president said, before Dusard objected.”I understand that, sir, but that was never said. That was never said, that’s the issue,” the fighter said, at which point Jenkins agreed.”That part was never said before the fight off, that is true and that is where we take the next step away from the rankings to who has been awarded,” he said.Presented with the recording, to which he listened intently, a defiant Jenkins ignored its contents, saying, “the three criteria were sent”. He also claimed that Dusard’s request to go up in weight class was only made on the day of the fight offs.”On the day of the fight offs?” a stunned Dusard responded when contacted by The Gleaner.”How could I make that request on the day of the fight? Raymond James from New York and I, who fought -68, we both asked on the 22nd if we could fight -80. We both expressed our desire and willingness to fight -80. We were told no by Jenkins,” he said.United States-based fighters, Craig Brown (-80 kg) and Jason Grant (+80kg), winners of their respective divisions, were chosen by Jenkins to represent Jamaica at the March 10-11 Pan Am Olympic qualification tournament in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
YOUNG Aishwarya Pissay had no inkling that a below average performance in the twelfth grade would pave the way for a career that she had only imagined in her wildest dreams. Having grown up in a regular Indian family, she was expected to take the college-graduation-job route like her peers.,YOUNG Aishwarya Pissay had no inkling that a below average performance in the twelfth grade would pave the way for a career that she had only imagined in her wildest dreams. Having grown up in a regular Indian family, she was expected to take the college-graduation-job route like her peers. She set out on a road trip with her seniors and incidentally they were biking. “I always admired my seniors, the women who rode bikes. But I was used to hearing women don’t ride motorcycles,” she says. Her interest in biking led her to apply for the then popular show, MTV Chase the Monsoons with a friend. “It was a bike trip that took me from the Rann of Kutch to Cherrapunji, and once it was over I knew I wanted to do a lot more of that,” she says.She returned to join the Apex Racing Academy in Coimbatore where she was the only woman training in professional track racing at the time. “The first time I was riding on the track, I realised that there was a lot I had to unlearn. Biking involves a lot of discipline,” she explains.In February 2016, at her first national professional race, Pissay finished a disappointing fourth but it left her determined to perform better going forward. This was followed by a road racing and a national rally win in the same year, a first for an Indian woman. She gained a sponsorship, went on to win more national titles in rally racing and there was no looking back. In 2017, Pissay had to choose between road racing or rally racing. “I enjoyed off-roading more since I was on a bike in the wilderness often for long periods. It is a lonely sport, but much more satisfying,” she explains.advertisementThis year, Pissay finished first at the Dubai Baja championship, third at the Portugal Baja and is gearing up for the forthcoming legs of the World Baja Championship in Spain and Hungary. She currently stands in the lead in the women’s category and in the second place in the Juniors category which includes both men and women. But these successes haven’t come easy. Last year, at the Spain Baja where she was the first Indian woman to ever participate, Pissay suffered an injury that left her with a ruptured pancreas. “My doctor said I wouldn’t be able to walk for six months. But, I was back on the track in that time. This championship has been a process of rehabilitation for me to get back on the track,” she explains.Despite major injuries, Pissay seems quite unfettered and is actively working towards bringing more women on the track. “I am only human and I’m scared when injuries happen. But people seem more concerned about scars and injuries with women. Scars don’t bother me,” she says. “Besides, injuries are a part of every athlete’s life,” she adds.Pissay dreams of being the first woman in the prestigious Dakar Rally and won’t stop short of that. In her own words, she lives a dream every day. “I play games on the Playstation and ride bikes for work, I couldn’t ask for more,” she says.