Two years ago Santa Cruickshank, a teacher of the Buccament Government School who has been an indefatigable worker in the field of sport and physical activity, brought to the annual Inter Primary Schools’ Athletics Championships (IPSAC) a little girl by the name of Ulanda Lewis. Unknown until then, Ulanda emerged from the competition as the most outstanding female athlete.
Last year, then a first-year student at the Barrouallie Secondary School, Ulanda Lewis showed a remarkable level of improvement, winning the sprints and helping her school to its first title of Champion school at the Inter Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships (ISSAC). She would turn 13 in September of that year.
Elevated to represent St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Grenada National Championships, Ulanda contested the Under 18 age category and defeated her opponents in the 100m and 200m respectively, and produced the fastest 100m for females in all age categories at the competition.
At the reintroduced Whitsuntide Games in Grenada later that year, Ulanda won the 100m and 200m in her Under 14 age category.
Earlier this year, at competitions in the Under 17 age categories at Championships in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. Ulanda proved herself a remarkable talent.
One year later, at this year’s IPSAC and ISSAC, Ulanda was much stronger and won the 100m, 200m and 400m in her first year in the Intermediate category, setting new records in each. She was third in the high jump and earned the coveted titles of divisional champ as well as Victrix Ludorum of the competition.
There is little doubt that Ulanda Lewis is a special talent and that she needs to be carefully nurtured both academically and athletically, going forward.
Her performances at this year’s ISSAC led the way in a flurry of record-breaking performances that augurs well for the future of the sport of track and field athletics in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
As predicted in this Column some time ago the track and field championships at the primary and secondary schools proved to be the most exciting that we have had in years. This is a reflection of the consistent work of our physical education teachers and coaches across the country over the past several years. The results reflect the commitment on the part of the aforementioned to working in the field day after day to assist our young athletes to pursue sporting excellence while at school.
The hope is that this would pique some to stay with the sport and rise to elite status.
The IPSAC 2018 was very well attended. An increasing number of parents and supporters made the trek to the Arnos Vale Sports Complex to witness the future of the country’s track and field.
The Kingstown Preparatory School, led by Victrix Ludorum winner, Skye Williams (34 points), completed a repeat victory over the opposition in the competition. However, the competition was relatively close. Prep ended on 276 points with Buccament Government second with 243 points.
The interesting battle between the two top finishers at the IPSAC was heightened by the fact that Mrs Abraham, the former head teacher at Buccament where Cruickshank worked, is now appointed to the Kingstown preparatory School. The latter was well aware that Santa would ensure that there was going to be a strong challenge from her former school and ensured that the strategies applied worked well enough to emerge victorious.
The Grenadines; Stephanie Browne Primary School proved yet again to be a thorn in the sides of the participating institutions in the IPSAC, finishing a creditable third overall with 199 points, ahead of the Questelles Government (150) and the Layou Government respectively (126).
Perhaps the most improved performance came from the Calliaqua Anglican School which finished in sixth with 124 points, two points behind Layou and only one point ahead of St Mary’s Roman Catholic.
Rolando Richards of the Calliaqua Anglican garnered a total of 30 points to capture the coveted Victor Ludorum title for his outstanding performances at this year’s IPSAC.
The Calliaqua Anglican School’s performance came as a direct result of the determination and commitment of former Prep teacher, Ms Abbott, and her engagement of the services of coach Michael Ollivierre to assist with the preparation of some of the athletes. Few could remember when last the Calliaqua Anglican even participated with a full team, far less to feature in the top 10 in the results.
Barrouallie Government (86), CW Prescod Primary (77) and Chateaubelair Methodist (74) rounded off the remaining teams in the top 10.
The competition was particularly keen throughout the events and the patrons in attendance enjoyed every moment of it.
It comes as no surprise therefore that several of our track and field coaches were in attendance at the IPSAC, taking notes of the talented athletes on display with a view to either encouraging their parents to send them to their respective schools or to join their respective clubs in the future.
Scouting by coaches for potential athletes will soon become normative in St Vincent and the Grenadines as is already the case in several Caribbean islands.
While Ulanda Lewis stole the show amongst the girls, amassing 41 points on her way to the Victrix Ludorum title, Jevonie Lavia of the St Vincent Grammar School tallied 47 points to take the Victor Ludorum title.
Excitement filled the Arnos Vale Sports Complex as athletes who have been involved in continuous training proved to be the best on the day.
Latavia Daly of the Girls’ High School amassed 36 points to win the Junior Division while Andrew Mapp of the St Martin’s Secondary dead-heated (33points) with Omario Warren of the Bethel High School to share the male divisional title.
In the Intermediate category, Ulanda Lewis took the girls’ title while Jevonie Lavia carried off the male segment.
In the senior category, Aaliyah Anderson ran off with the female divisional title with Desroy Jordan of the Georgetown Secondary taking home the male segment.
Amongst the girls’ schools the Barrouallie Secondary (377) was in a league of its own. In last year’s ISSAC, the Barrouallie Secondary won by a margin of 139 points. This year, the school ended the competition 165 points clear of second placed Thomas Saunders Secondary School (212). St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown was third (198) with bethel (192), Girls’ High School (144), St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua ((91), Petit Bordel Secondary (58), Dr JP Eustace Memorial (49), Troumaca Ontario (44) and Union Island Secondary (40) completing the top 10.
In the boys’ division, the St Vincent Grammar School (310) topped the table yet again, followed by St. Martin’s (212), Thomas Saunders (163), Barrouallie (150), Bethel (138), Georgetown (114), Buccament (107), Bishop’s College (71), West St. George (52) and Petit Bordel (42), respectively.
While everyone knew that Grammar School and Barrouallie would win their respective overall titles, the intensity of the competition and the spate of records broken at this year’s ISSAC were simply remarkable.
When the dust had settled following the final event of the ISSAC 2018, a total of 19 new records had been established.
Andrew Mapp, like Ulanda Lewis, featured in the establishment of new records for the 100m, 200m and 400m, except that he was in the junior division of the competition. Similarly, Romar Stapleton of Bishop’s, competing in the boys’ intermediate division, set new records in the same three events.
Handal Roban of Grammar School set new marks in the 1500, 800m and 400m respectively in the intermediate division.
Ashanti Richards of Barrouallie set records in the junior girls’ 400m and 100m respectively while her school mate, Zita Vincent, set new marks in the 1500m and 3000 respectively.
Zamesha Myle of Thomas Saunders set new marks in the 200m and 400m seniors girls.
Other records came from Grammar School’s Rawlins in the 100m intermediate, Tariq John of Emmanuel Mespo in the 200m in the same category, Krystal Foster of the Girls’ High School in the senior Discus Throw and Clemicia McIntosh of the Marriaqua Convent in the junior Shot Putt.
In the relays new records were established by the Barrouallie Secondary in the 4 x 100m for both senior boys and girls and the 4 x 400m senior boys; the Girls High School in the 4 x 200m juniors, and the St Vincent Grammar School in the intermediate boys’ 4 x 400m.
It was unfortunate that due to the inaccurate markings on the track for the Heats that no new marks were accepted by the organisers from the events conducted at the time.
While some commentators expressed concerns about the records of the ISSAC, it should be noted that there are two sets of records. One set relates to performances in track events held under the old hand-timing regimen. The second set relates to performances established since the introduction of electronic timing in the competition.
This year’s IPSAC and ISSAC saw the introduction of in-stadium screens that served to enhance the delivery of the sporting spectacle. This welcome addition to the event was welcomed by patrons and athletes alike and would no doubt become a fixture for the future.
Kahlil Cato and Tedra Kirby, fresh from training at a course in Event Presentation organised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) held in Grenada, and facilitated by Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG), were able to significantly enhance the in-stadium experience for athletes and patrons. The management of the announcements, music and on-screen displays came from their training.
TASVG’s continued expansion of the meet and results management as well as of the linkages with the awards department and the video board and television was noteworthy and has certainly taken track and field athletics to another level.
The entertainment packages offered and the promotions certainly added to the overall interest in the competitions but will obviously take time before positively impacting patrons to value being on the inside of the competition arena encouraging the athletes involved in the sporting spectacle.
Challenges remain but as the curtains came down on this year’s IPSAC and ISSAC, organisers can feel confident that the commitment is there to continue to strive after consistent improvement in the delivery of the Championships in the future.
Excellence is still in reach.