National Juniors/CARIFTA Trials: SLAA President Cornelius Breen Says, “It’s Worrisome”

5000 meters Open Kaheem George in 18 minutes 19.28 seconds, Youth 100 meters, Miguel Charlery 1st in 21.73 seconds and Boys Junior high jump, Adagio Green 1st with a height of 1.90 meters. (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)

There is much to like about track and field; there is the variety from throwers, from the 5000-metre runners, from the sprinters, the middle distance runners and of course the jumpers. It is one of the best sports to watch live on television. It is even better to be in attendance, watching from a good vantage in the stadium where a championship is being held. Well, any stadium aside from the dilapidated George Odlum Stadium in Vieux Fort.        

On Saturday 6th April, the National Juniors/Carifta Trials held at the George Odlum Stadium sadly came to an abrupt end when only two teams made themselves present in the call room for the boys 4×400 metres relay. The organizers were left with no choice but to call off the event as had been the case when a number of events were called off due to a no show of athletes.

With a team down for selection to represent Saint Lucia at this year’s CARIFTA Games one need ask the question: are we serious about the sport?  Track and Field is one of the sports which has bought Saint Lucia international acclaim/glory and yet you find the shareholders, meaning the athletes, not showing any interest or taking charge of what is theirs. If you love what you do, you need to champion the cause; be a soldier for the sport that you represent.

With what was exhibited on the day, Saint Lucia would be lucky to have eight athletes representing the island at the Carifta Games this year.  It is just a clear indication as to the level we are at right now, but perhaps it is best to wait for the SLAA to make their pronouncements after all the paperwork is done.

As is customary, The VOICE spoke to the Saint Lucia Athletic Association President, Cornelius Breen about the selection of Saint Lucia’s team for the 39th edition of the Carifta Games in the Cayman Island and the quality of performances during the National Juniors/CARIFTA Trials held this past weekend at the George Odlum Stadium.

This is what he had to say: “We had the opportunity for the Technical Committee to have a final look at the athletes who are in contention for the CARIFTA Games in the Cayman Islands, April 19th – 22nd 2019. It was a pretty difficult day for the SLAA in terms of the officials; they were drained from Inter-Secondary Schools Championship/Inter-Primary Schools Championship and to show up for the National Juniors/CARIFTA Trials was a bit of a tussle, but we were able to manage.”

(L-R) Girls Juniors 400 meters, Kimani Alphonse 1st 55.66 seconds, Zadie Louis 2nd 57.91 seconds and Girls Junior long jump, Kereser Augustin 1st 1.90 meters. (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)

He added, “The number of athletes present was pretty low and as president of the SLAA I am not too happy with what I am seeing. We registered over 300 athletes for this meet and when it comes to executing the events on the day the athletes didn’t show up.

“We have to go back to the clubs/affiliates. In the past, we have indicated that we will be instituting fines for the coaches/clubs who register athletes and have us prepare the Heat Sheets for a championship and the athletes don’t turn up on the day. We definitely have to take a decision on that because it is putting a strain on us, especially on the individuals who give of their time freely to volunteer and at the end of the day when you call an event you only have either two or three athletes showing up in the call room. The next best thing to do is to call off the event. This is totally unacceptable.”

In terms of Saint Lucia’s team for the CARIFTA Games, Breen said, “We have a tight deadline. The final entries were to be received by April 1st, but we extended the deadline until April 9th for the SLAA to submit its final entries/athletes and officials.”

The SLAA technical Committee was supposed to meet on Tuesday evening to select Saint Lucia’s team but according to Breen ahead of the meeting, “It’s not going to be easy. The SLAA will have to make a decision on how they will proceed.”

For the SLAA President, the situation is worrisome, to say the least. When asked about the quality/standard being exhibited at the National Juniors/Carifta Trials, he expressed, “I haven’t had a look at the actual results. What I have seen on display, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of the performances. Some notable individuals have performed. The likes of Kimani Alphonse, Miguel Charlery, Tarrick Xavier and Shelton St. Rose… they showed up. They came out to compete, but as President I am not happy with the overall performances. We have a lot of work to do to get these athletes up to standard, not only those who are here, but track and field in general.”

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