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Top athletes under starter’s orders

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Top athletes under starter’s orders

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I’m starting to get excited.
This is one of those scenarios track and field fans dream about:
After a long time, Barbados is finally getting back a good cadre of senior athletes.
Many of those athletes have had a very good season on the collegiate circuit.
The Central American and Caribbean Senior Track and Field Championships will be held this year.
The IAAF World Championships will be held this year. And there is a brand new track at the National Stadium.
Did I mention there is a brand spanking new track at the National Stadium?
This year’s National Championships are scheduled for June 21 to 23 and no true track and field fan should miss it.
For years, Barbadian athletes have complained about the track.
It’s too hard. It’s too old. It’s too slow.
Some coaches have argued that Barbadian athletes have had to work twice as hard as some of their regional counterparts to qualify for overseas meets because of the strong cross winds which blow across the Waterford, St Michael venue, and our standards tend to be much higher.
Some of the more common injuries which have struck athletes over the last three years or so, include shin splints, pulled or torn hamstrings and even slipped hip joints.
The new track puts all of that in the past.
Any true athlete is chomping at the bit to run. They can’t wait to test that track.
Don’t be surprised if a few who have retired put on their spikes just to give it a test run and weigh in on how it feels when discussion starts after this weekend’s Barbados Olympians Classic.
So what do we have to look forward to over the next few weeks?
Former world champion Ryan Brathwaite seems like his old self again. He’s been pretty consistent in his recent starts and with Shane Brathwaite and Greggmar Swift on his heels, coupled with the fact that they actually have a good starting area for the 110m hurdles, that is one event I am eagerly anticipating.
Maybe we could be witnessing his first sub-13 here at home as well as Kierre Beckles’ first 12-point in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Then there is the men’s 100 metres.
Imagine a lineup with Andrew Hinds, Ramon Gittens, Levi Cadogan, Rimar Christie, a healthy Shekeim Greaves, Rico Tull and Mario Burke.
Maybe, just maybe, we can get a sprinter actually cracking that 10.1, 10.0 region again. I live in hope for a sub-10.
Burke was unfortunate this season when Inter-School Sports were cancelled. There was no doubt among those of us who knew his potential that he would have broken Obadele Thompson’s long-standing record of 10.56 seconds in the Under-17 boys’ 100 metres.
He went to the CARIFTA Games and did 10.55 seconds which has him ranked among the Top 10 in the world. To see him lining up against the men will be mouth-watering.
If the women decide to compete, the 200 metres will be another must-see event.
In the men’s 400 metres, Burkheart Ellis became the first Barbadian since Wilan Louis to dip into the sub-46 territory. He seems to run well when he is here, so a new track is tailor-made for him to do something exciting.
There is Anthonio Mascoll in the 800 metres as well as Kion Joseph and Tramaine Maloney in the 400m hurdles.
I am getting excited, but not carried away because I know only too well many of these athletes don’t compete when they return, shutting down after their college championships.
There are really no excuses for athletes – barring injury – so I am eagerly anticipating the next few weeks.