By Caribbean News Now contributor
LONDON, England -- The St Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC), in the light of what it referred to as “several misconceptions” in the international press, following statements distributed by former world champion sprinter Kim Collins, has clarified its position regarding Collins’ departure from the St Kitts and Nevis Olympic team last Friday.
The SKNOC stated categorically that Collins was not denied the opportunity to be with his wife during the competition.
“Management was more than prepared to provide the necessary support services to Mr Collins in this regard and he was allowed ample time off to meet with his wife at the airport, accompany her to her hotel and stay overnight. Permission for leave was granted on Wednesday 1st August at 8.00 am with a mutual agreement that he report back for training with the rest of the team at 7:30 am on Thursday 2nd August, and Mr Collins departed the Village the same day. Mr Collins, however, chose to abuse the privilege granted and officially stayed away from the Olympic Village for a further two days with minimal communication with his managers or coaches,” the SKNOC said in a statement.
According to the SKNOC, records show that Collins subsequently entered and left the Olympic Village on Thursday 2 August, without alerting the team management.
“This seems to have been a pattern with Mr Collins, as on a previous occasion he slipped out of the Village unofficially, attempting to return during the early hours of the morning via a service entrance,” the SKNOC said.
Collins publicised his four-hour delay in getting back inside the Olympic Village via Twitter messages, whilst not making it clear to his Twitter followers the time and the fact that he did not use the correct entrance for an athlete, therefore Olympic Village security personnel refused him access via that entrance.
“Mr Collins chose not to alert team management of this incident, as his early morning adventures would have been frowned upon. Management later learnt of this from his tweets and from enquiries from LOCOG and the media,” the SKNOC said.
The SKNOC said, however, that it did not withdraw or expel Collins from the 100m heats on Saturday 4 August. Collins was apparently asked repeatedly via email and telephone to report to the Village on Friday night by 10.00 pm. However, he refused to comply and did not report back to the Olympic Village until the morning of Saturday 4 August, when he attempted to gain entry at 11.41 am. Collins has since publicly stated that his purpose at that time was to collect passes that had been approved for his wife.
“He was due to run in the first heat of round one of the 100m scheduled for 12:30 pm and if he came to run, this was clearly insufficient time for a top athlete to prepare for an Olympic race,” the SKNOC said.
Collin’s accreditation to enter the village was withdrawn by the management of the team on Friday 3 August at 10:26 pm with instructions to the IOC to notify the team’s chef de mission if he attempted to gain access to the village during the night after his no-show earlier.
“However, he had every opportunity to make contact with team coaches and management and to be available to report to the team warm up and call rooms on time for his race on the Saturday,” the SKNOC pointed out.
Earlier that week, team officials, management, coaches and athletes met with St Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas, yet Collins did not return to the Village to meet with the prime minister and other officials, including Kevin Isaac, St Kitts and Nevis High Commissioner in London and First Secretary, Wanda Connor. A few days earlier, Collins and the SKN Olympic athletes were also absent at a special function held in their honour at the St Kitts and Nevis High Commission.
“Mr Collins’ continued absence from the Olympic Village was in breach of his contract of participation with the SKNOC in London 2012, which among other rules asked all athletes to 1) attend all scheduled meetings; 2) attend training sessions; 3) be available for random drug tests, which can be called by the IOC at any time; 4) to be available for promotional or team events; and 5) confirm their whereabouts to the IAAF. Mr Collins broke this contract of participation and consequently his coaches were unable to properly manage Mr Collins’ training or monitor his fitness for the 100m. Being unavailable for the random drug test was a particular concern,” the SKNOC said.
Dennis Knight, vice president speaking for the SKNOC, said, “While we all know of Kim Collins’ iconic status in the sports world and particularly the emotional anticipation felt by the whole country, Mr Collins had blatantly violated rules laid down by the NOC and London 2012. He did not attend any scheduled meetings with team management in his capacity as team captain, showed poor leadership of the other team members and displayed no personal discipline or respect to his coaches who were there to support his training and fitness. I will not pretend that it was not also very hurtful to observe the disregard that Mr Collins showed for his country, for SKNOC and Olympic organizers in refusing to make himself available for training, for registration and to meet his prime minister. Everyone from government to the SKNOC, SKNAAA and International Olympic Committee has worked tirelessly in the run up to London 2012 to ensure the team’s representation at London 2012 while, internally, management had been extremely accommodating with Mr Collins. Therefore, given the circumstances, we had no choice but to withdraw Mr Collins’ accreditation to the Olympic Village.
“Unfortunately, Mr Collins’ erratic behaviour continued on Saturday when he used social media tools against his management.”