WITH limited funding available at present, the Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) will still celebrate and recognize its athletes for their outstanding achievements during 2019 when it stages its awards ceremony. The three-hour event will take place at the Saint Lucia Olympic (SLOC) Inc. Headquarters in La Clery starting from 7.00 p.m.
The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the junior and senior male and female athletes for the Year 2019.
Attending will be the SLAA President and the executive; Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc. General Secretary, Alfred Emmanuel; Director for Sports, Patrick Mathurin, awardees; specially invited guests to include parents and members of the media.
To this end the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports has released the names for nominees for the 2019-2020 sports awards to local media. Leading the charge for the top spot in track and field are Jahem Ferdinand, Julien Alfred, Albert Reynolds and Levern Spencer. Alfred, Reynolds and Spencer were the SLAA top winners last year.
There will be some nail-biting moments, especially amongst the youth male and female athletes, as the nominees have not been disclosed by the SLAA.
The VOICE spoke to the Saint Lucia Athletics Association President Cornelius Breen about the highs and lows of 2019. He noted, “Last year was a successful one for athletics in Saint Lucia. The highlight for us was the remarkable performances by our age group athletes over in El Salvador; Levern Spencer and Albert Reynolds’ performances at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru and Julien Alfred’s performances during the year as she continues to grow leaps and bounds”.
He continued, “We saw the successful launch of our Jumps Programme with technical support from the Cuban specialists on island”.
In terms of finance the SLAA boss said, “We continue to struggle in that area to secure the much-needed funding from the corporate sector, but we will not stop as we have a mandate to move the sport to another level”.
With another six months to go before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, he switched gears to speak on qualifiers.
“This year is an Olympic year and we have a number of athletes who are working to making the Tokyo Games,” he said. Albert Reynolds, Julien Alfred, Levern Spencer and Sandisha Antoine were some of the names mentioned who were hoping to qualify for the Games.
With 70 days to go for the 2020 CARIFTA Games in Bermuda, Breen noted, “It’s difficult at this time to comment on the CARIFTA hopefuls as we have embarked on a project of setting standards for these games over a two-year period 2020/2021. Our focus is geared towards getting our athletes and coaches to start thinking big, outside the box. Not just achieving the standards but surpassing it and thinking beyond the CARIFTA Games. Many of the coaches have seen this as a shortcoming, and hence we have heard and now we are attempting a different approach altogether”.
He added, “We will continue our training of technical officials and coaches with a series of knowledge building sessions along with our various development programmes which we are looking to introduce in the coming days”.
Breen said the Association was working towards a new constitution.
“We are also looking towards the Soufriere tracks which will assist with our plans to bring back track and field in that town and its environs,” he said. “It has its limitations, but we can use it as a start to rekindle interest”.