Jamaican Olympic hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis is speaking out about how the sports industry fails to support athletes who are not ranked among the world’s “top five” in their respective disciplines. While some athletes receive million-dollar deals, most work hard to support themselves. Her take on the truth about the lack of funding for the majority of track and field athletes has resulted in intense debates online. Clunis follows star sprinter Noah Lyles of the United States, who also focused on struggles relating to track and field sponsorships.
Social Media Post Makes Headlines
On December 6, 2023, a post by Track and Spice featured Clunis crying and was captioned, “Jamaican Athlete Nayoka shares the hardship she is facing as an athlete and the countless amount of help she has been asking for but gets none because she’s not top 5.” Additionally, Clunis reads in the post, “Nobody wants to talk about the lack of funding or sponsorship that track and field gets. If you’re not ranked in the top 5 people don’t take you seriously. And Yes I have been pleading for assistance from JAAA, JOA, and even the Minister, and no one is willing to help! How are athletes supposed to survive?” Her comment referred to the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, the Jamaica Olympic Association, and the Jamaican government entity that oversees sports. She added, I’m not asking for the world, I’m asking for the basics to survive. THAT’S IT! #broken athlete.”
Problems Despite Achievements
The statement by Clunis was especially shocking to the track and field community as it follows her outstanding athletic achievements. Clunis is the first Jamaican to qualify in the hammer throw event at the World Championships, and in 2020, she earned All-American status in the shot put and weight throw, receiving All-Big Ten Second Team and Academic All-Bit honors. She finished second in the weight throw and fifth in shot put at the Big Ten Championships, achieving best-in-career marks. She also won Second Team All-American honors in hammer throw and weight throw in 2018.