TASVG – 2009 and beyond

On Saturday last, 12 December 2009, Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG) hosted its annual Awards Ceremony.
The activity was intended to celebrate the organisation’s achievements during the year whether at the level of athletes, coaches, technical officials, volunteers or administration.  In general terms the TASVG commended itself for being able to move forward in 2009.
Saturday’s ceremony heard reports from the Chairman of the Cross Country and Road Running Commission, Leroy Llewellyn and the Games Secretary, Mr Rawlson Morgan. While the former spoke to the successful road race season in 2009 the latter addressed the track and field events hosted during the year. Both sought to deliver plans for the coming year and beyond.
This year’s road racing season was perhaps the most successful for the past decade. Although there was a slow start in terms of the number of participants by the end of the season huge crowds participated. Of course the very best was the last activity organised by the Commission, the NemWil/NLA OECS Half Marathon.
The track season was also impressive with the Junior and Open Championships being brought together.
During the year TASVG was able to meet most of its objectives and take the sport forward although there were not as many victories abroad as would satisfy the sport-loving populace of this country.
Delhonni Samuel, son of Dane Samuel and nephew of Bigna Samuel, two outstanding Vincentians athletes, was this country’s lone medallist at the international level for 2009. He won silver at the annual Carifta Games in St Lucia over the Easter weekend. He has since been able to access a university scholarship to the USA and seems set for bigger things.
Kineke Alexander was a semi finalist in the 400m at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Pamenos Ballantyne continued to be among the best in the Caribbean in road races. He has however not been as consistent as in previous years. Whole he won several races at home and in Trinidad and Tobago, the top awards have eluded him in the major regional and international road events this season.
Adonson Shallow continues to excel in field events at school in the USA. However rather disappointingly he is yet to make the IAAF’s standards for international competitions.
Lisa Daniel’s return as this country’s leading female distance runner is most welcome and on is perhaps hopeful that this would serve as an incentive to female athletes to stay with the sport.
Daniel was second in the NemWil/NLA OECS Half Marathon hosted here and then went on to the Run Barbados half marathon where she was fourth overall, first in her age group and second for the Caribbean. Her achievements have positively impacted her to the point where she is now back into full-time training and looks set to contest the CLICO Marathon and the NACAC Cross Country in Trinidad and Tobago in the early part of 2010.
Coach Alrick Wright attended and successfully completed the IAAF Level 3 Coaches Certification Course in the Jumps. He has already commenced the preparation of a jumping pit at the playing field near his school in an effort to facilitate the systematic coaching of athletes at the institution. He has also joined Labban at the Run-Jump-Throw Saturday morning sessions.
Technical Director, Gideon Labban, remains the most consistent of the TASVG coaches. Rawlson Morgan, Byron Quamina, Godfrey Harry and Rosmund Griffith all continue to work with athletes contributing in no small measure to the sustainability of the development process in track and field athletics.
While undoubtedly some coaches are doing well in the field others who have been trained do nothing to help the sport. The investment in their training has not paid dividends for the governing body and the nation suffers as a result.
During the year 2009 however TASVG engaged in a number of initiatives designed to take the sport of athletics forward.

Technical Director and the schools initiative
TASVG’s technical director, Gideon Labban, has been mandated to introduce the fundamentals of athletics in the schools across the nation. This is a TASVG activity.
This programme began in late September and has been able to reach the vast majority of educational institutions with great interest being shown by the principals and students. Unfortunately TASVG could hardly be satisfied with the response of some of the teachers. This poses a problem for sustainability of what has been introduced. The organisation nonetheless will attempt top work with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sport towards encouraging teachers to get more involved and identify those with the requisite commitment to go forward for further training as coaches.

Run-Jump-Throw (RJT)
Labban has also introduced the Run-Jump-Throw programme at the Arnos Vale Playing field on Saturday mornings. This programme is intended to facilitate the movement of the sport. Thus far some athletes have been consistent in terms of their attendance and this has led to significantly improved skill competency levels.

Kids in Athletics (KIA)
Rosmund Griffith, now an IAAF Instructor for the Kids in Athletics programme, has introduced the programme at the George Stephens Secondary School in Colonarie.
Ms Griffith has also taken the KIA Programme across the Dry River to Owia where a number of children come together to learn the basics on Saturday mornings.
In 2010 this programme will be significantly expanded to reach all of the communities across the Rabacca Bridge with special emphasis being placed on girls. Work will also be undertaken to facilitate the development of an athletics club in the area north of the Dry River.

Special mention must be made of Manson Shortte of the Biabou Methodist School. Since the successful completion of the IAAF Level 1 in January 2008 Shortte has been innovative in the production of appropriate technology to make the requisite implements for use in the KIA Programme. Not surprisingly his school is the most advanced in the use of the KIA in the country.
Additionally, mention must be made of the fact that Shortte was sent to an advanced coaching course in distance running in Mexico, following which he has given a commitment to establish an athletics club in Biabou founded on the graduates of the ongoing KIA Programme at the schools.

GTIP and the YOG
Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines will be involved in the Grassroots Talent Identification Programme (GTIP) under the National Olympic Committee’s arrangement with Olympic Solidarity to use the resources allocated for participation in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games scheduled for Singapore next Summer.

London 2012
Athletes and coaches are involved in the ongoing initiative of TASVG, The London 2012 Project. This features the identification of athletes as well as appropriate training and competition opportunities aimed at ensuring better performances at the London 2012 Olympics.
TASVG is not at all satisfied with what has been happening in the sport’s representation at the highest international level nor is the Vincentian sporting community. Project 2012 is now two years old and it can be expected to impact the status of TASVG in the country and beyond.

Active Girls
Active Girls is a creation of coach Rosmund Griffith while she participated in an advanced coaches development programme co-sponsored by the United States Olympic Committee and Olympic Solidarity. The programme emphasises the importance of girls in athletics. The initial programme lasted six months.
TASVG has procured funding to sustain this programme at least for one full year beginning in January. The focus of attention would be girls in the North Windward area.

Coaches Educational Forum
Technical Director, Gideon Labban has begun an innovative Coaches Education Forum that is located on the NOC’s website – www.svgnoc.org.
The intention of the Forum is to make available to athletics coaches a wealth of resources, educational and technical, as well as information on sources of materials that can be used in the development of the coaches and their coaching.
While it may appear that TASVG has done relatively well in several areas much of the way forward depends on the extent to which the organisation proves itself capable of implementing the several initiatives.
Importantly, the success of TASVG in the future will hinge on getting everyone on board with the aforementioned initiatives.