Potential stars shine at ISSAC and IPSAC

Inter-Sec Heats AVSC Mar 18 2010 431The annual Inter Primary and Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (IPSAC and ISSAC) came off at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 March respectively with the highly anticipated friendly rivalry, much to the delight of the thousands of patrons on hand.
Importantly for the leaders of track and field athletics in the country the Championships brought to the fore the immense potential that exists amongst our students to excel in the sport provided that the facilities can be adequately and speedily upgraded to provide the much-needed synthetic surface and our coaches can appreciate that they can work with athletes anywhere and not necessarily attempt to convince athletes that this or that one can be the only one to see them through success.
Indeed, close examination of the results of both the IPSAC and ISSA reveals the startling truth that our coaches and physical education teachers have what it takes to produce good athletes.
IPSAC 2015
This year saw record participation in the IPSAC with 54 schools involved. This included the schools from the Grenadines, which gave good account of themselves despite the absence of much by way of facilities.
Competition was particularly keen as the results revealed. In the Under 7 female category Saniah Peters of the Evesham Methodist School and Anna Miller of the Layou Government School shared top honours each achieving 10 points from their participation in the competition. Similarly, Jaheim John of the Layou Government School and Jamaine Keil of the Spring Village Methodist School shared the honours in the male Under 7 age category, each accumulating 10 points.
Dexcian Williams of the Pamellus Burke Primary School amassed 32 points to win the title for the Under 9s and also a share of the Victrix Ludorum honours while Curwen Mc Dowald of the Questelles Government School gained 23 points to win the male division.
The Under 11 category saw Kacey John of the Kingstown Preparatory School (20) and Dejuan Collis of the Stephanie Browne Primary School of Union Island (24) dmedrge divisional champions.
Finally, in the Under 15 category Ulanda Lewis of the Buccament Government School (32) won the senior title and shared the Victrix Ludorum award with Dexcian Williams. Tyrique Bushay of the Layou Government School (33) copped the top award in this category and also took home the Victor Ludorum title and trophy.
A significant large turnout of parents and supporters of the children of the nation’s primary schools served to encourage the young athletes to give of their very best in the various events.
As has become the norm the IPSAC witnessed an eagerness to participate and compete that delighted the enthusiastic and highly supportive crowd inside the competition arena. Athletes who fell readily picked themselves up and continued their involvement in the different events. Athletes who dropped the relay baton readily gathered their composure, picked up the baton and continued through to the completion of the event.
Heading into the finals the Layou Government School had what many thought was a commanding lead over arch-rivals, Kingstown Preparatory School. However, the work that Ian Sardine had put in with the Prep School students came to the fore when it mattered. The school ended the day with an awesome 313 points well clear of the Layou Government School (234) and the Lowmans Leeward Anglican School (188). The Buccament Government (143) and the CW Prescod Government (137) rounded off the top five finishers.
ISSAC 2015
Competition in the ISSAC was no less exciting. The Thomas Saunders Secondary School was anxious to turn the tables on the St Vincent Grammar School. For its part the latter began the finals with cautious optimism aware of the number of injuries among its contingent and the guaranteed absence of one of its brightest prospects in the Intermediate category who got injured in the 400m during the Heats.
Thomas Saunders wanted to win both the male and female categories as it had done some years previously but the determination of the Grammar School athletes proved too much for the second consecutive year.
The National Sports Council’s positive response to TASVG’s request to have the eight lanes being used for the competition appropriately rolled the morning of the event left athletes with a firm enough surface that made an important difference in their performances. The result was the establishment of 11 new track records:
Romar Stapleton (BCK) in the 100m and 400m Junior Boys.
Shannell Lampkin (BHS) in the Junior Girls 1000m.
Shantell Williams (GHS) in the 100n and 200m Intermediate Girls
Tamara Woodley (GHS) in the 800m Intermediate Girls
Zita Vincent (CLSS) in the 1500m Intermediate Girls
Dexroy Wilson (CLSS) in the 400m seniors
SVGS in the Junior Boys 4 x 100m.
GHS in the 4 x 100m Intermediate
TSSS in the 4 x 100m Senior Boys
In the Junior category Shannell Lampkin of BHS (26) and Shayne Lynch of SVGS (37) took the individual female and male championship titles respectively.
In the Intermediate category, Shantell Williams of the GHS (27) and Brad Slater of BHS (30) took the top female and male honours respectively.
Among the Seniors, Deslorn Lawrence of SJCK (39) and Akani Slater of BHS (42). Their respective performances were good enough to also allow them to take home the Victrix and Victor Ludorum titles respectively.
Special mention must be made of a two athletes whose potential can see them moving onto the world stage with consistent training, adequate facilities and appropriate competition.
Shantell Williams of the GHS, trained by Pamenos Ballantyne, was a veritable unknown until our distance runner and coach took her under his wings and training regimen in the middle of the competitive season in 2014. At this year’s ISSAC Shantell won the 100m, 200m, 400m and was the lead performer of the GHS victorious teams in both the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays in the Intermediate Division.
Most importantly, Shantell Williams’ winning time in each of the 100m(12.67), 200m (25.80) and 400m (1:00.64) in the Intermediate Division was faster then that of winner in the Senior category where the 12.68; 26.05 and 1:01.79 respectively.
Romar Stapleton of the Bishop’s College Kingstown won the 100m, 200m and 400m in the Junior Boys category, establishing two new records in the process.
There were some interesting upsets during the competition and one can expect to see changes in the way things are done by some coaches going forward.
Despite the good performances of several of the athletes at the ISSAC no one made the standards established by TASVG for the upcoming Carifta Games. Even when allowances are made for the fact that they were competing on grass with longer spikes they still would not have made the Carifta standards established here. This reality speaks to the major challenges facing our athletes and coaches. Everyone must step up to the plate and commit to working more diligently and systematically at attaining higher performance achievements if we are to compete more favourably.
There is reason to accept that the athletes need more exposure but that comes with a cost. Where parents of swimmers, tennis and squash players readily commit finances to assist their better athletes to train and compete abroad that is not the case in the sport of track and field athletics. Accessing sponsors to meet the required exposure of our athletes is not an easy challenge to overcome.
The annual Carifta Games is not a competition for exposure of our athletes. The standards set by the finalists at the Carifta Games are usually significantly higher than was the IAAF sets for its World Youth and World Junior Championships. Carifta medallists often gain medals at these events on the global stage with relative ease.
Exposure of our younger athletes may be appropriate for competitions held by neighbouring countries, which have synthetic surfaces.
Many of our young athletes cannot afford training outfits as evidenced by the numbers using a wide variety of clothing each day. Most do not have tracksuits to use after completing their training schedule on any given day. Many athletes do not have appropriate training and competition shoes.
Many of our athletes have to travel to their training venues and also when attending Mini Meets and local competitions. Often times they lack the financial resources to do so and rely on their coaches and friends to assist in this regard.
Indeed the vast majority of our athletes do not have the wherewithal to furnish themselves with the daily nutritional requirements.
The governing body for the sport is often expected to provide all of the foregoing for as many athletes as coaches seem to think have the requisite potential yet the reality that many of these very coaches are also out in the marketplace competing with the same governing body for assistance for the same athletes is often ignored. Add to this the fact that athletics is but one of many sports competing for financial and material support for its athletes in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The challenges are numerous and at times insurmountable and at times even those involved in the sport become their own worse enemies given the way in which they go about handling the athletes, treating officials and conducting themselves. They are not always understanding of the very challenges that daily confront them.
All too often, in an effort to win over this or that athlete coaches make promises they cannot keep. They cannot always deliver on the promised performance of the athlete. They are not selectors and cannot guarantee any athlete his/her selection on national teams regardless of performance.
Finally, it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that St Vincent and the Grenadines is a small, open and highly vulnerable economy that has not been doing well over the past several years. The private sector is under tremendous pressure to merely survive and the government has numerous challenges of its own.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing revelations for the athletics fraternity is that rather than focus attention on the long-promised national stadium that will at once serve athletics and football the National Lotteries Authority has just borrowed $6.5m from the National Insurances Services (NIS) to upgrade sports facilities across the country. That money would have covered the cost of the infrastructure and track at Sion Hill.
For now therefore, the challenges seem to hold sway over the development of our young, potentially rich athletes.