05/03/2012 01:29 EDT | Updated 07/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Canadian Olympic hopeful understands high jump ban

One of Canada’s foremost track athletes understands why the Lambton Kent District School Board has temporarily banned high jump from its elementary schools.

Jamie Adjetey-Nelson, who won the decathlon at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and is close to qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London, got his start in high jump.

“I understand what Lambton’s doing about high jump,” he said. “It’s not dangerous. You don’t hear about many injuries, but it happens.”

Josiah Grant, 17, who was competing in high jump in Smiths Falls in eastern Ontario on April 4, was seriously injured after missing his landing on the safety mat. He later died in hospital.

The Lambton Kent District School Board has also removed high jump from its high school phys ed classes.

Adjetey-Nelson took up the sport at St. Joseph’s high school in Windsor, Ont.

"When you’re learning the event, it’s difficult,” Adjetey-Nelson said. “As long as you have a place where you can jump, I think high jump is fine and it’s safe.”

There are few such places in Windsor.

Local school boards banned the event from elementary schools in Windsor-Essex years ago. At the high school level, few schools have the appropriate facilities and crash mats to accommodate high jump.

Equipment costs limit sport

Adjetey-Nelson said when he started, many athletes trained at a central location in Windsor. Today, that school is Sandwich Secondary School in LaSalle, just west of Windsor.

The minimum number of crash mats required for high jump in Ontario schools is three.

“If you don’t have enough mats, you land on the ground,” Adjetey-Nelson said plainly.

The mats cost $3,000, according to both Adjetey-Nelson and Craig Cavanagh, who coaches at Riverside High School and is chair of the OFSSAA track and field sport advisory committee.

“A lot of schools just don’t have the facilities to do it. Schools can’t afford mats,” Cavanagh said. “Because there aren’t the facilities out there and there isn’t money for sports anymore, it’s difficult to train for.”