Jamaican preparations marred by protest

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The Independent Online

While stormy weather kept British athletes indoors at their training camp in Macau yesterday, it emerged that the Jamaican sprint team, which is expected to dominate competition on the track, has been experiencing some inner turbulence, with former world record holder Asafa Powell at its centre.

Jamaican team manager Ludlow Watts confirmed that Powell and his two fellow members of the MVP track club, former world silver medallist Michael Frater and Shelley-Ann Frazier, had refused to take part in relay practice sessions and had handed over a letter of protest to the management team.

The problem is believed to be rooted in a dispute between team management and MVP's head coach Stephen Francis – who has not gained accreditation for the Games – over the need for all athletes to attend a mandatory training camp.

"The way that the JAAA are forcing us to prepare for the Olympics that is not what we had in mind," Francis was quoted as saying recently. "We believe the people who are doing this preparation have no clue about what they are doing."

With world 100m record holder Usain Bolt in uncharacteristic discord with his own coach, Glenn Mills, over the announcement that he will double up in Beijing, all is clearly not well within the Jamaican camp.

Macau was lashed by heavy rain and strong winds as a severe tropical storm also hit Hong Kong, where the preparations for the Olympic equestrian competition had to be halted. A category eight typhoon warning was issued which, by law, means all offices and shops are forced to close while public transport is also suspended.

"We can't leave the hotel because when there's a typhoon at this level eight all the transport is cancelled, so unfortunately we are all holed up in a hotel," said heptathlete Kelly Sotherton. "I'm not too bothered about it. It's similar to a hurricane and it's not as bad as it has been but it's torrential rain and high winds. We are right by the coast so the sea is very rough."

Meanwhile, Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London 2012 Games organising committee (LOCOG) has described the Beijing facilities as "inspiring" in his progress report here to the International Olympic Committee. LOCOG chairman Seb Coe has had to remain in England because his father, Peter, is unwell.