On the eve of the annual Inter Primary Schools Athletics Championships (IPSAC) and the Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (ISSAC), the athletics fraternity was greeted with the news that on yet another occasion, someone thought it a wise thing to literally break the lock of the storeroom of Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines – located under the PH Veira pavilion – at the at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, managed by the National Sports Council (NSC).
For the past couple of years, even with the security of the NSC in place the facility has been consistently broken and in several instances, equipment removed.
A few months ago someone broke into another storage facility that housed TASVG equipment, on the second floor of the double-decker pavilion on the eastern side of the complex.
Over the past few years among the equipment stolen from the storage facilities are starting blocks, complete with the nails to keep them in the ground, shot for use in the Shot Put event, hurdles and discoi for the Discus Throw.
It now seems that some people believe that whatever equipment purchased by TASVG should become their personal property, thereby deliberately preventing other athlete sin training from using them.
Over the years that has been strong resistance by some coaches to adhere to any system that calls on them to request equipment, sign for what is requested and to sign again on their return on any given day.
TASVG has called upon the NSC authorities to investigate the matter with some urgency.
It is interesting to note that it is not a common practice for coaches to purchase their own athletics equipment. The exception to this has been those schools that have won cash awards for performances at the annual ISSAC, a practice which only started a few years ago.
It is also not common for athletes to purchase their own equipment. The number who do so can perhaps be counted on one hand.
There has also emerged a practice for some coaches to conceal equipment that they have in their possession and which they know they never purchased.
On Wednesday 2 March, some equipment was left in the storeroom overnight because they were to be used the following day for the second set of heats for the IPSAC. On the morning of Thursday 3 March, it was evident that someone had been attempting to break into the storeroom. Having failed the perpetrator then stuck a piece of meal into the dead-bolt lock and other materials in the pad lock, them covered the entire locking system with glue. A new lock had to be purchased. A report was made to the Operations Manager of the NSC.
One week later, whoever it was that attempted to break in the week before was second time lucky and ruptured the lock system. Another new system had to be procured and installed.
One is uncertain as to just how long it would take for the new lock system to be smashed as has happened before.
One thing is certain, the actions of whoever is responsible for the several break-ins
The stage is now set. We have completed three consecutive weeks, a total of six days, of Heats, first for the IPSAC (four zones) and then the ISSAC (Girls’ and Boys) and the finalists have earned their places.
The performances thus far suggest that the finals scheduled for next week would be exciting. On Wednesday 22 March would be the IPSAC finals and the following day it would be the turn of the ISSAC. Both events would take place at the idyllic Arnos Vale Sports Complex.
Over the past few weeks the Education Media Unit has been moving around the country promoting the event and encouraging students, friends and family as well as the general public to attend the Championships in support of the young athletes vying for school and national honours.
Competition in the IPSAC events have already thrown up some interesting challenges.
It is not going to be easy for any of the schools to simply run away with Championship honours.
For example, in the open 600m for girls Almarie Providence of the Kingstown preparatory School achieved the best performance thus far with 1:56.61, ahead of Nollesha of Lowmans Leeward Anglican and Casey John of Prep, with Latoya Williams of Canouan Government and Reonique Bacchus of Stubbs Government in close contention.
In the Boys open 800m it is Randel Stowe of Paget Farm Government that has the lead going into the finals ahead of Shemar Williams of Lowmans Leeward Anglican.
Lavever Bowens of Stephanie Brown Primary leads Gabriella Trudge of St Mary’s RC and Tiffany Douglas of Pamelus Burke in the girls in the 300m U – 11. In the Boys segment Joel Hector of Richland Park Government leads Darson Joseph of Layou Government and Derrion Johnson of St Mary’s RC.
Raphiesha Walker of Bequia Anglican has already thrown down the gauntlet to the opposition in the 80m event for the senior girls while Cody Bartley of FitzHughes Government leads the boys into the senior 80m finals followed closely by Omari Warren of the Barrouallie Government.
As they prepare for next Wednesday’s finals, Buccament Government has the lead overall, ahead of St Mary’s RC, Paget Farm Government, Layou Government, Kingstown Prep, Belmont Government, Questelles Government, Lowman’s Leeward Anglican, Pamelus Burke, with Diamond Government and Sion Hill Government tied in 10th position.
Buccament leads the girls’ division ahead of Paget Farm Government and St Mary’s RC while in the boys’ division, Buccament leads Layou Government and Kingstown Prep.
Among the ISSAC participants the leading female athletes include Zamesha Myle (Thomas Saunders), Krystal Foster and Tamara Woodley (Girls’ High School) and Zita Vincent and Ulanda Lewis (Central Leeward Secondary School).
Lewis, who will turn 13 later this year, has already established herself as a most formidable sprinter, following on from her outstanding performances at last year’s IPSAC when she represented Dubois. Thus far for 2017 she has already posted the fastest time by a female Vincentian junior athlete at home in the 200m.
Vincent, who demolished all others in everything from 800m through to the 3000m at last year’s National Championships, would seek to repeat the feat this year but at the ISSAC. She recently competed undefeated in the 1500m and 3000m at the Trinidad and Tobago Carifta Trials 2017.
Foster is expected to go unchallenged in the Discus Throw but may have some competition in the Shot Put from Deli Primus and Oranique Richardson of the Central Leeward Secondary School.
Among the boys the competition should again go close.
Javon Rawlins, fresh from copping the Victor Ludorum title at the Grammar School Athletics Championships 2017, will be seeking to continue his dominance when competition begins on Thursday 23 March. He is good both on the track and in the field events, with immense potential to become a decathlete.
Rawlins would have to contend with Immanuel Henry of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School, Tarique John of the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia and his school-mate, Sage Primus.
Andre Spencer of the Intermediate High School should easily cop top honours in both the Shot Put and Discus for the senior boys while Trulonie Mc Kenzie of the St Martin’s Secondary should be had to beat in the 400m and 800m for the boys in his category. His school-mate, Newman Peters would perhaps take top honours in the longer 1500m event in the same age group.
Romar Stapleton of Bishop’s College Kingstown should also be among the winners on Thursday along with Central Leeward’s, Tueshumba Hepburn, in the Shot Put and Discus.
Carifta Games are just around the corner and not many of the athletes are as yet close enough to the established standards to demand a place on the national team.
TASVG’s standards are usually based on the average of the eight placed finalist in each event over the past three editions of the Carifta Games. Unfortunately, some of our coaches seem to think that these standards are much too high. It must therefore be concluded that they may well not be concerned about the return on investment if they wish the national team to be comprised on athletes who, from their performances show themselves not yet capable of making the average eight place (a finalist) in the event for which he/she is selected)
Thursday’s finals would be the last opportunity for Vincentian athletes at home to qualify for the annual Carifta Games.
The absence of a synthetic surface continues to hinder the preparation of many of our athletes. However, coaches must also be able to explain the seeming inability to have their athletes consistently improve their performances with increased training years.
Evidence shows that there are now more coaches willing to put their shoulders to the wheel and engage in the caching of young athletes.
Interestingly, we continue to see some coaches going after athletes they have seen with talent but already under the charge of other coaches rather than work with the latter coaches to assist in honing their skills.
Some coaches go around the physical education teachers in schools to the parents of athletes to persuade them to have their children switch coaches. This is unfortunate but we can expect it to continue for some time in the future.
As we mentioned in a previous article, more physical education teachers who are also coaches continue to impress on their principals to encourage talented athletes to make their schools their first choice when doing their pre-secondary school examinations. Here again this would continue well into the future, especially since more educational institutions seem eager to venture out into the annual Penn relay competitions in the USA.
More schools, physical educators, parents, coaches and athletes seem prepared to undertake the work required to develop good athletes going forward. This means that inevitably the annual IPSAC and ISSAC would continue to reflect this trend.
This year as previously, we can expect new records to be established at both the IPSAC and ISSAC. These are Championships next week that no one would want to miss.