Will Jamaica benefit from leaving final Commonwealth Games team selection to the last minute?

Jamaica’s trial for the Commonwealth Games is taking place this weekend, so many will be wondering why most nations picked their teams for Glasgow at the beginning of June.

Although the deadline for submission of teams to Glasgow 2014 was June 12, changes can be made in athletics up to July 25.
Most nations use this opportunity merely in the case of injuries, but Jamaica is exploiting it fully by holding a selection trials two weeks after the deadline.

A Jamaican team has been submitted but the names are pretty much irrelevant if the comments of Jamaican Olympic Association president Mike Fennell to Athletics Weekly are anything to go by. He said: “A number of countries have the same problem. The arrangement is that we have to put in entries in the events that we will be competing in and the names are to be confirmed on July 2.”

Meanwhile, no performances at this weekend’s British Championships – the GB trial for the European Championships – will have any bearing on the teams for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – except in the case of injuries.

Is this fair? Glasgow 2014 set the deadline as early as June 12 for administrative reasons – regardless of the fact that it was too soon for the liking of many national federations and athletes. If every country had followed Jamaica’s lead then it would have presumably caused the Commonwealth organisers a major headache. Then again, Glasgow 2014 probably knew that few countries would do as Jamaica have done.

England’s deadline for performances considered for selection was set at June 1. This decision was questioned particularly after England’s Chijindu Ujah ran 9.96 to rank third in the Commonwealth over 100m on June 8, but lost out on a team place as he only had one ‘A’ standard at the time selectors met. Fellow sprinter James Dasaolu, who clocked 9.91 for 100m last year and was the world’s No.1 for 60m in the 2014 indoor season, also missed out through lack of current form but, said to be coming back to full fitness, is another who could have benefited from a later deadline.

It might be asked why England’s policy could not have been more like that of Jamaica and stipulated that the team picked by June 12 was only “provisional” and subject to change following this weekend’s British Championships.

It is thought the notification of athletes and submission of teams to Commonwealth Games England for approval were the main factors dissuading selectors from following Jamaica in setting a provisional team. As it was, England’s team was revealed to the public one week later than planned – on June 16 – due to administrative problems because of “the size of the team”, which numbered 129. However, you might wonder how Jamaica  – albeit with a team likely to be around half England’s in size – are getting around this problem.

Is Jamaica gaining an unfair advantage? Or were other nations not sharp enough to notice the loophole? One thing’s for sure: the Commonwealth Games are the winner from all this – Usain Bolt declared himself available for selection yesterday and, coming back from injury, it is doubtful whether he would have committed to the event in early June.