Poor track ‘a big hurdle’
International track and field won’t be returning to Barbados and the National Stadium anytime soon.
The last major meet on the island was the 2003 Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships, and since then, locals have been starved of high level competition.
While the primary and secondary schools’ championships go a long way in filling the void, Barbadian track fans long for the days when Debbie Ferguson, Ramon Clay, Deon Hemmings and our own Andrea Blackett and Obadele Thompson competed at the National Stadium.
Veronica Campbell-Brown wowed them in 2001, her final year as a CARIFTA Under-20 with the sprint double and Usain Bolt set the then World Junior record back in 2003, but they haven’t been back here as pros.
It simply can’t happen without a new track.
“First thing we need is a track that will pass the inspection of being at least a Level II,” Esther Maynard, president of the Amateur Athletic Association, said in a recent telephone interview.
“Until we get that certified track, we cannot host an international meet of any quality. When you have a meet of that quality, there is a likelihood of people setting records and if your track can’t stand up to scrutiny; then you open yourself up to criticism.”
Barbados had a similar experience back in 2003 when Bolt equalled the World Junior record of 20.13 seconds in the 200 metres. The IAAF at first balked at ratifying the record because the track had not been certified.
The laying of the track has been pushed back again, and the latest update from Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley has the work scheduled to start after the June 22-24 National Championships.
“A lot of our athletes compete overseas, but it would have been nice to have a really brand new, sparkling track for nationals. But if we are not to have that, we have been competing on this one and we hope it will get us through to the end of the season,” Maynard said.