Project Field Events

Project Field Events

St Vincent and the Grenadines does not possess a synthetic track. The implications of this fact for athletes desirous of becoming sprinters are numerous.

Coaches must know the long list of challenges they face in seeking to produce world class sprinters utilising only grassed surfaces. It is therefore rather interesting to find so many of them attempting to convince athletes that it is possible to compete favourably in the international arena having used only grassed surfaces in their preparation.

Even the most cursory perusal of the long list of track and field athletes this country has produced and one would be hard-pressed to identify those that were able to train only on grass in St Vincent and the Grenadines and win medals at the international level, not ever having been exposed for some time to training and competing on synthetic surfaces.

 

Reality check

This country’s first gold medal at the annual Carifta Games was won by Orde Ballantyne in the Shot Put event. At the Games in 1981, Orde threw the Shot 15.68m to win the gold medal.

It took another six years (1987) before this country won another gold medal at the Carifta Games. Jacqueline Ross took the top prize in the Long Jump with a leap of 5.73m. Two years earlier (1985), Ross has copped bronze in the Shot Put with a throw of 5.73m.

This country’s first female Carifta medallist was Helen Harry who finished third in the Shot Put in 1983, with a throw of 10.17m.

In 1987, Saville Sayers earned a bronze medal in the Triple Jump at Carifta with a leap of 14.14m. Two years later, Yvette Haynes finished third in the Long Jump at the Carifta Games, leaping 5.87m.

Adonson Shallow went on to the US where he showed remarkable strength in his events. His records for this country were all achieved there. In the Shot Put he holds the national record of 18.57m. In the Discus his record stands at 59.77m. In the Hammer Throw he attained a best of 70.14m and holds the record of 60.97 in the Javelin.

In contrast, this country has won only one Carifta gold medal in the running events. Marvette Collis shattered the field in Barbados in the 200m.

Jacintha Ballantyne had of course started the medal-winning performances in the running events when she won silver in the 100m at the Games of 1973, in a time of 12.6.

Reuberth Boyde won silver in the 200m in 2015 in St Kitts and Nevis while DeLhonni Samuel (son of Dane Samuel) and Junior Ashton won medals in the distance events.

The fact is that the statistics show that on the running events the athletes appear to fare better in the distance events where the surface does not matter as much as is the case with the sprint events.

Our performances in the field events, where our athletes have trained consistently and elevated their standards, we have witnessed better performances.

Several of our neighbours have had similar experiences.

The vast majority of Carifta medals won by athletes from Dominica, where there is still no track, have been in the field events.

Grenada’s first Carifta gold medal was won by Eros Rapier in the Javelin Throw.

It was not until Grenada got is synthetic track in 2000 that the country’s sprinters started to do better in the competition. It is true though that the Spice Isle had produced some good sprinters on grass in the past, the most noteworthy of whom remains Donald Pierre whose shocking defeat of world leader at the time, Fred Newhouse, at the Southern Games in Trinidad and Tobago remains an historically memorable feat.

St Lucia’s field eventers remain to this day far more successful at the regional and international levels than their sprinters.

There is therefore a very strong case for the emphasis that TASVG is placing on the field events. Unfortunately several of the coaches are yet to understand the importance of developing this aspect of the sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

There is therefore a very strong case for the emphasis that TASVG is placing on the field events. Unfortunately several of the coaches are yet to understand the importance of developing this aspect of the sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Mastrapas Lopez

Some years ago Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines brought Mastrapas Lopez to conduct two weeks training in the throws.

Mastrapas Lopez is a Cuban throws coach who married a Trinidadian and now resides in Trinidad and Tobago. Since residing in the twin-island Republic, he has distinguished himself by producing some of the region’s best throwing athletes.

In 2012, he had a phenomenal year with teenage sensation at the time, Kayshorn Walcott. The athlete set new records along the way and copped titles from Carifta to the Central American and Caribbean Juniors to World Juniors to the Olympic gold medal in London.

While coaching in St Vincent and the Grenadines Mastrapas Lopez identified a number of athletes whom he thought possessed the aptitudes for the throws.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the local coaches of athletes had already identified the events they wanted the athletes to do and thus were decidedly upset that anyone from outside the country dared to say otherwise.

In one particular instance a young female athlete that showed tremendous talent with the throws from the very first day of training was rudely embarrassed and humiliated while training with the Cuban coach one afternoon. Her local coach demanded she stop attending the sessions since she was seemingly destined for greater things in the track.

Today, the same athlete, at university in the USA, has agreed with the College coach that her strength and talents lie with the throws.

The athlete’s talent for the throws was obvious to everyone else with experience. The pig-headedness of the coach, seemingly bred out of a desire to make an athlete in an event he coaches, led to years of time wasting for an athlete with potential.

All too often this scenario gets repeated. Some coaches, anxious to make a name for themselves, refuse to pay attention to the advice of others in the sport, only to contribute to the demise of the very athlete they wish to help.

Mastrapas Lopez saw an abundance of talent for the field events in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Unfortunately, the glamour remains with the sprints.

 

Paul Phillip

Paul Phillip is an IAAF certified coach from neighbouring Grenada. His area of specialisation is the throws.

A former athlete himself, Phillip has produced many champions at the CARIFTA and CAC Juniors levels. He is the current coach of five-time CARIFTA gold medallist, Anderson Peters, who made the qualifying standard for this year’s IAAF World Championships in London, England.

Phillip also coached Grenada’s most decorated CARIFTA medallist, Shamir Thomas, winner of 11 medals in total.

At the request of TASVG and the Olympic Committee, the IAAF approved Phillip to be the throws expert for a four-month programme in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Phillip has twice worked with TAVG on stimulating interest in the throws, much as was done with Mastrapas Lopez. While there was still some resistance from some coaches to allowing him access to ‘their’ athletes, he has nonetheless been able to identify some youngsters with enough talent to move forward.

His latest assignment to this country commits him to the development of a systematic nationwide programme for the throws. Specific goals have been set and the objectives agreed upon. Work has already begun.

 

The strategy

TASVG’s strategy is to develop several athletics zones in St Vincent and the Grenadines. These zones are already being supplied with equipment. Unfortunately, some of TASVG’s equipment have been stolen by coaches but will soon be recovered since the perpetrators are well known to the athletics fraternity.

 

The IAAF’s Olympic Dividend offer of $25,000 USD over a four-year period, has already been committed to the procurement of the appropriate equipment for eight zones across the country.

The 2016 allocation of equipment has gone to North Windward and Central Leeward. The 2017 allocation, currently enroute, would be provided to Bequia and Georgetown.

The impact of developing field eventers across eight zones in this country would certainly allow our athletes to be more competitive with their counterparts in the Caribbean and at the continental and international levels.

Phillip would be conducting coaching programmes in each of the zones and would be accompanied by coaches who have shown interest in developing and committing themselves to the throwing events.

During coach Phillip’s tenure in St Vincent and the Grenadines, TASVG’s technical director, Chester Morgan, would facilitate regular coaches’ education sessions with special emphasis on the throwing events. Physical education teachers would also be involved in these sessions to ensure better performances of their athletes at their own school sport as well as at the Inter Schools competition.

Technical director, Chester Morgan, and coach Phillip would also apply the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) programme that was developed during the 18-month project that ended in May 2017. That document would serve as the developmental guide going forward.

The talent identification component is but one aspect of the LTAD. The main focus is about getting people interested and excited enough to participate in the sport.

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