On Target
April 16, 2010
At least a compromise

Vincentians have accepted that they are not going to get the promised National Stadium. Members of the sporting community are, therefore, asking for a small favour, a compromise: Give us a synthetic track.{{more}}

This is not asking much, as one has seen where in the area of Athletics, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is fast becoming a non-entity on the regional circuit.

For yet another year, this country failed to medal at the last Carifta Games, and other factors aside, the absence of a track is one of the main impediments to the production of athletes of note.

Three years ago, during the preparations of the Arnos Vale One Playing Field for World Cup Cricket, our athletes had to journey to St. Lucia to get their qualification times, so as to make it to the Junior Carifta Games. That is the extent to which we have gone.

Additionally, it is often a culture shock for home grown athletes who venture out on regional games and have to encounter the synthetic tracks. Its novelty often affects their performance.

And, we need not go far to see the importance of this important asset.

Grenada and St. Kitts/ Nevis are living testimony of what a synthetic track has done to their Athletics programme as it has been a shot in the arm for them, as their performance has improved.

Also, the Turks and Caicos Islands was without a track, but when they did get one, the following Carifta Games resulted in one of their athletes medalling. And, that athlete was home grown.

So when one looks at the Truman Bowden Stadium where this year’s Junior Carifta Games were held, there is not much sophistication in that facility.

Some time ago, St. Kitts simply put down an all weather track. Then the pavilions were built. This served to provide athletes with the basic facility to hone their skills.

So why can’t we? Is it not the same way many Vincentians construct their homes, by “building around?”

Undoubtedly, Athletics is the Mother of All Sports. Jog your memories back to the 1970’s and 80’s when Athletics was strong; other sporting disciplines were also at their best.

One tended to feed from the other.

At the 2009 Secondary Schools Athletics Meet, it was the national Under-20 footballers who were in training for the regional finals at that time that featured highly in the sprints. So one cannot underestimate the value of cross training.

In fact, when the Sion Hill club was the dominating force in road racing here in the 70’s and 80’s, stamina and fitness were hallmarks of the club’s Football unit, which translated into several championships.

The same is true for our national Football team of 1979, when emphasis was placed on Athletics training, (some may say it was more of a military nature), that gave this nation notice on the Caribbean stage.

The records show that also in 1979, the same national Football team placed second in the National Athletics Championships.

It is true that St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the years, in all sporting endeavours, has made the most, more than any on par with us, out of the least of resources.

But we are in 2010, and no longer can our athletes be expected to be top performers without the minimal of facilities.

This is not to say that with the provision of a track, there will be instant success and our athletes would become world class overnight, but at least give them some hope and recognition.

Such a facility can also be used as a training ground for other sporting disciplines.

That is the best the authorities can do for our sports people!

No letting up on calling for the complete removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.