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Trampling on athletics

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Trampling on athletics

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If there was ever an indication that we are not serious about sports, I saw it live and in living colour two days ago on my TV8.
Moments after Grand Kadooment coverage began last Monday morning, I rushed to take a look. I had no interest in the Walk Holy Band, the Blue Box Cart Band or anything else; I wanted to see the track.
To be more accurate, I didn’t want to see it.
I wasn’t surprised when I did.
Since I wasn’t at the National Stadium, my observations are limited by what I saw on television, but there didn’t appear to be a single sheet of plywood on the suddenly not-so-new Mondo track.
Throughout the course of the day, I saw women in boots, hard shoes and high heels tramping across the surface which was laid at a cost we have never been fully told.
(Who jumps in high heels, anyway? Isn’t it hard enough having to wear them to work?)
There they were – wining, jucking, sticking, rolling, holding their heads and attempting to hold their ankles. Not a single piece of plywood was under their feet, but the track was dirty.
To add insult to injury, the announcers told revellers not to go on the grass, but stay on the track.
My interpretation: The grass can grow back, but keep off of it. Instead, stay on the multi-million dollar track.
Immediately, I remembered the message I received back in June when the track was finally opened.
“Girl, you should see them down here measuring spikes.”
That’s right; officials were at the National Stadium measuring the length of spikes to ensure they were not too long because of the damage they can cause to the track.
Not a single soul seemed to have been at there checking footwear on Monday.
How can we be serious about athletics, the only sport in which we have been able to maintain an international presence – please don’t bring netball into this discussion – but we are treating the track like this?
Strict guidelines were set up for the athletes.
“We really needed to put a new policy in place so we can maintain the existing new track [and] to have a longer duration of the surface, because as you can understand, we spent a lot  of money on this surface,” deputy director of sports Neil Murrell told NATIONSPORT back in June.
“Mondo sent in people from their technical department to provide us with a maintenance guideline that will serve to ensure the track’s full useful purpose in terms of longevity, and this guideline includes things like washing protocols, cleaning products to be used and the use of heavy equipment on the track.
“But our main issue before was the heavy use of the old track by clubs, associations, and the wider public in general, so it was felt that although we don’t want to exclude those individuals on a permanent basis, there needs to be definitive policy put in place for the governance of the new track.”
There was no evidence of it on Kadooment Day.
No shredded paper, confetti or drink stoppers should have gone anywhere near it yesterday. Kadooment without confetti, paper and drinks?
Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley had a golden opportunity to score some brownie points within the fraternity because he also has the culture portfolio.
When queried about the track, this is what he told Starcom Network.
“This track is very resilient. As you know, athletes use spikes on the track. I have been told by the National Sports Council that heels should not present a problem to the track. We have built a very sturdy and resilient track.
“We will actually watch it and so on, but I don’t think we have a problem. I have been listening to my advisors and they have advised me that I have nothing to worry about. So, let the people have their Kadooment and we will continue to monitor what we see going on.”
So, let the people have their Kadooment, but hamstring the efforts of the athletes.
But when we get serious about sports, someone please send me another text!