The Barbados Relay Fair is in need of higher quality competition.
But while not scoffing at the present participants, coordinator June Rudder told Barbados TODAY this will be their main focus for future meets. Speaking in an interview in Warrens, St Michael, yesterday she said this focus would depend, however, on the level of sponsorship they received.
Of those teams invited to participate, Jamaica has told them that it would be less expensive to travel to Miami in the United States to attend track meets than to come to Barbados.
“. . . But we are working on it, trying to get a team but it has been like pulling teeth and I think it is mainly an economic thing. I don’t want to deride the teams that are coming but basically we just want to target the best in the Caribbean. In the future we are looking to get stronger teams participating but right now we are happy just
to have representation from these islands . . . .
“I want to develop Caribbean teams with our Barbados teams because frankly Jamaica doesn’t need us, they have all the competition they need and so my emphasis is on the southern Caribbean. So once I can get teams from the southern Caribbean coming out I am happy,” she said.
“We had a team from the [United States] lined up to come but their college system doesn’t allow them to pay for travel outside of the US. If we could have found a sponsor they would have been here this year but in this recessionary time we couldn’t pull it off. But the possibility exists that if we could get the sponsorship there are teams who are willing to come. Yes, people are tired hearing of that story and I believe people are giving as much as they can but again that is one of the constraints,” Rudder added.
Commenting on last weekend’s games she said apart from a few hitches as a result of rain, the games came off well. The number of participating teams increased over 2013 but nonetheless still fell short of those competing in 2012 because of the backlash of not having the facilities of the national stadium last year. Nevertheless, this year, she said, there was some good opposition from the University of Guyana.
What was interesting, Rudder noted, was that many of the teams which came to the meet used it as a rehearsal for other meets such as the Penn Relays.
“. . . Like the team from St Vincent who came here to get proper times recorded and then they go onto Penn. A couple years back we had a team from Trinidad which did the same thing… and of course a lot of our local teams do the same. What this is showing us is our Barbadian standard is really high relative to the rest of the southern Caribbean because for the most part they have been struggling to compete with us. The meet offers serious competition for the participants and it serves as a great warm up for inter-school sports which is a major competition for schools.”
When the games were first started the intention was to provide a small competition for teams. Back in 2002 they began with only secondary schools; the games became so popular that primary schools and then the over 45s were included to now compete in the three categories: 4x100m, 4x200m or 4x400m and a medley relay. Since then teams from Canada, England, Bermuda and Curaçao have been attracted
to the fair over the years.
“In the first year we had about 300 spectators, now we are in the region of 3000. It has grown and we have actually surpassed the goal but it is still not at its peak yet because we still don’t fill all the stands. Why I say it surpassed expectations is because it was started with the idea of providing something different in terms of competition for secondary schools and it has now expanded to include three/four different categories of athletes. One of the other things we try to do is encourage school teams from other islands and so far every year we’ve
had at least two teams from overseas,” she said.