On Target
January 29, 2010
Take warning!

As the 2010 schools’ Track and Field season gets into high gear, this column cannot help touching on some issues and developing trends that are fast becoming part and parcel of the events.

Firstly, in seemingly unconcerned style, is the dangerous practice of students perching from the windows of vehicles while following their schools’ Road Relays.{{more}}

The recently held Girls’ High School road event brought into sharp focus the little attention given to students’ safety at such occasions. Overcome by excitement, the students waved their flags, reveled in the opportunity and cheered on their runners, but at their own detriment and that of their loved ones.

This has been an ongoing and unchecked occurrence for many years, despite the presence of the local constabulary and the corresponding permission to hold such event in the first place.

Not being a predictor of doomsday, but rather a realist, it is only a matter of time before someone gets injured seriously. When that happens, we are going to put the preventative systems in place. But by then, it may be too late as that could be an unwarranted fatality.

A stitch in time saves nine. Take warning!

Secondly, is the whole issue of preparation, that is, PROPER preparation.

It is quite clear that it is only a few weeks before the Track and Field Meets that some students get in gear for their “Sports”, as it is fondly and appropriately called.

A few stretches, maybe, two or three afternoons on the playing field, spiked up with energy drinks, then the athletes deem themselves ready for the challenges of competition. That is the general modus operandi.

As the saying goes: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” In the case of sports, more so Athletics, it can also read: “Proper preparation prevents prolonged pain.”

Yes, Track and Field Athletics is seasonal, but greater effort should be made to get the athletes better prepared prior to the schools’ meets.

How many of the teachers are willing to take that extra time out or seek technical help if they are not able to, to dispense to their athletes, the right type of training?

Similarly, some with good intent try to give their athletes the necessary training. However, they do so with incorrect techniques.

At these Games teachers disposal are regular sessions on Saturdays put on by Team Athletics SVG, but many do not grab the expertise afforded.

Thirdly, (and this is linked to preparation) is the failure of the teachers to have a reasonable knowledge of their athletes’ capacity and capabilities.

Sometimes, the over exuberance of the House personnel asking the athletes to push their bodies to the limit may one day lead to an unfortunate situation.

I have seen where some athletes have been asked to compete in several events in one day, without much recovery time. Sometimes, when they do not perform, harsh words and even insults are hurled at the youngsters.

Ignorance, on one hand, one may say, but a student’s eternal demise can be the end result of this lack of knowledge on the part of those in charge.

It may be necessary for us now to reintroduce the medical tests and an endurance test on our athletes before letting them go on the tracks.

Are we going to wait on a disaster to happen, to take this aspect of preparation seriously? An ounce of prevention is better than cure, as it is always known.

Just last weekend, a teenaged boy, Jaime Brown, collapsed and died in a Cross Country run in Jamaica. Three weeks prior, also in Jamaica, a 19-year-old male footballer, Nico Collins, died after a morning beach training session.

Some years ago, right here at home, a youngster died during the St. Vincent Grammar School’s Road Relay.

Therefore, act at once before we wail unnecessarily.

The authorities should also take warning that Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field needs to be removed.

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