On Wednesday of this week St Vincent and the Grenadines observed National Heroes Day. Whilst we continue to engage in discussions about who should join Paramount Chief, Joseph Chatoyer, as a national hero, our young people at schools across the nation are in high spirits, attempting to become heroes in their own right, even if only for a brief period.
After three consecutive weeks of track and field preliminaries (heats) the leading athletes are almost ready to contest the finals of the National Lotteries Authority’s (NLA) Inter Primary Schools Athletics Championships (IPSAC) and the Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (ISSAC) scheduled for the Arnos Vale Sports Complex on 21 and 22 March respectively.
After the preliminaries 48 schools have had athletes qualify to compete in the finals. This is testimony to the tremendous work being undertaken across the country by the physical education teachers, coaches and teachers interested in athletics.
It should be mentioned that the heats for this year’s NLA IPSAC was attended by significantly large crowds dominated by parents, keen on supporting their children and the schools they attend. It is the first time that heats for this event has ever witnessed such attendances.
At the conclusion of the heats the following constitutes the schools whose athletes would dominate the finals:
- Kingstown Preparatory School (13)
- Buccament Government (10)
- Questelles Government (10)
- CW Prescod Primary (9)
- Stephanie Browne Primary (8)
- Calliaqua Anglican (6)
- Georgetown Government (6)
- St Mary’s RC (6)
- Chatoyer Methodist (5)
- Layou Government (5)
The foregoing schools are perhaps the ones where greater attention appears to have been made to engage the students more deliberately in learning, practising and training for competition in track and field athletics.
Barrouallie Government and Cane End Government each has four athletes qualifying for the finals. Belmont Primary, Bequia Anglican, Canouan Government, Gomea Methodist, Lowmans Leeward Anglican, Mary Hutchinson, Pamellus Burke Primary, Richland Park, Langley Park Government, South Rivers Methodist and Rose Hall Government, each attained three qualifiers for the finals.
The Barrouallie Anglican, Belair Government, Brighton Methodist, Claire Valley Government, Greggs Government, Lowmans Windward Anglican, Marriaqua Government, Owia Government, Stubbs Government, Sion Hill Government, Park Hill Government and Kingstown Government, each had two qualifiers.
Biabou Methodist, Diamond Government, Evesham Methodist, FitzHughes Government, Lodge Village Government, New Prospect Primary, Paget Farm Government, Paradise Primary, Sandy Bay Government, Spring Village Methodist, Troumaca Government and Windsor Primary, each gained one finalist for the big day at Arnos Vale.
Who to watch
Already the competition is such that defending champions, the Kingstown Preparatory School, is not as safe as has been the case in the past. Strong competition is expected from Buccament Bay, Layou and CW Prescod, all of which have some very good athletes in the finals.
With the largest number of individual finalists the Prep athletes are sure to render it particularly difficult for the opponents. The relays could easily make the difference in respect of Prep maintain its lien on the championship title for yet another year.
Perhaps the biggest surprise at the finals would come from the Calliaqua Anglican, an institution that had either not participated or did so with very small and almost insignificant numbers over the past several years.
This time around the leadership at the Calliaqua Anglican have taken the sport seriously and have proven quite competitive at the heats and is now a major threat to the best in some events.
Fans who plan to trek to the Arnos Vale Sports Complex for the finals of the IPSAC can look out for Amelia Alexander of the Stephanie Browne Primary, Nicky Stapleton of Rose Hall, Devorn Dickson of the Barrouallie Government, Jodesha Samuel of Layou and Troy Douglas and Skylan Francis of Questelles.
Parents of the primary school students would readily throng to the Arnos Vale Sports Complex to support the children as they vie for honours in the intense track and field competition.
Competition in the heats of the NLA ISSAC was even more intense than was the case in the IPSAC.
25 schools have produced athletes good enough to make it through to the finals. The top finalists come from the following institutions:
- Bethel High School (24)
- Barrouallie Secondary School (22)
- Thomas Saunders Secondary School (15)
- Petit Bordel Secondary School (11)
- Buccament Bay Secondary School (11)
- Bishops’ College Kingstown (9)
- Georgetown Secondary School (9)
Single gender schools
- St Vincent Grammar School (14)
- St Martin’s Secondary School (12)
- St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (8)
- Girls High School (6)
JP Eustace Memorial Secondary, North Union Secondary, St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua and the Troumaca-Ontario Secondary each gained five finalists. Sandy Bay Secondary and Union Island Secondary each attained three finalists.
Bequia Community High, Bequia Seventh Day Adventist, Emmanuel High School Marriaqua, George Stephens Secondary and Intermediate High School, each earned two finalists.
The Adelphi Secondary and St Clair Dacon secondary each earned one place in the final.
Who to watch
From performances seen at the heats there is little doubt that the St Vincent Grammar School would face a stronger challenge than was the case last year. They go into the finals more than 50 points clear of their nearest rival, the Thomas Saunders Secondary School closely followed by the Barrouallie Secondary School in the boys’ competition.
In the girls’ division, it is expected that the Barrouallie Secondary School should repeat last year’s title victory albeit with a smaller margin of victory. In 2017 the Barrouallie Secondary won by a margin of over 130 points. This year the school’s junior division does not appear as strong as in the previous year.
Ulanda Lewis continues to prove a very strong and very fast athlete for her age. Thus far she has competed favourably around the region showing her class while still only 13. She will turn 14 in September. Many are expecting her top set new records in her first year in the Intermediate Division.
Ulanda’s fellow student, Zita Vincent, has already blazed the track in the 300om, lapping all but the second and third placed athletes. She is likely to go unchallenged in both the 1500m and 800m respectively amongst the seniors.
There is an interesting battle for the shorter distances in the senior division between Zamesha Myle of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School and Annica Richards of the Intermediate High School.
Amongst the boys, Andrew Mapp of the St Martin’s Secondary School seems to have the sprints well in hand given his outstanding performances in the preliminaries.
Romar Stapleton of Bishop’s College Kingstown appears to be on track in the sprints in the intermediate division.
Javon Rawlins of the St Vincent Grammar School would have his hands full in the senior division.
On the day
Over the years the annual National Lotteries Authority IPSAC and ISSAC have proven to be quite entertaining. This year promises to be even better than what we have experienced in the past.
The promotion of the NLA IPSAC and ISSAC has been significantly more pervasive and enticing than hitherto and the organisers of the events are expecting larger crowds that are also more interested in supporting the athletes as they engage in intense athletics competition.
An appeal has been consistently made this year to encourage parents to accompany their children to the competition.
The Schools Games Committee and the Athletics Sub Committee have been engaged in activities aimed at facilitating the best possible conditions for the athletes to deliver optimal performances in their respective competitions.
Attempts are also being made to enhance the in-stadium activities for patrons. Work is being done to facilitate significantly improved coverage for Vincentians at home and abroad through VC3 as well as through live streaming.
There remains some concern about the fact that in the past many patrons attend but do not seem interested in the competition. Hopefully, the friendly rivalry amongst the athletes and between their respective schools would engender greater interest this time around.
One would hope that this year’s NLA IPSAC and ISSAC finals would showcase the immense talent the country possesses in track and field athletics and the work that has been done by all those involved in assisting them to realise their potential.
Forward to a successful NLA IPSAC and ISSAC 2018!