The Joseph Payne Memorial Classic is expected to have one of the largest turnouts this year with over 700 participants when the tenth edition runs off Saturday, January 25, at the National Stadium.
Organiser Charles Walcott said during a recent press conference held at McEnearney Quality Inc. in Wildey, St. Michael, that with the participation of clubs, schools, oversea teams, they expected a large number of athletes to compete in over one hundred events scheduled for that day.
This year’s classic sponsored by CW Foundation begins at 10.a.m. with the focus being on field events. Two athletes from China are expected to grace the shores of Barbados. They are discus thrower Tan Shen and shot putter Gao Yang accompanied by coach Matt Wilkins, a former Olympian who has produced Olympic and Commonwealth champions.
“This year we are pleased to announce that we will have a team coming out of China. It is a small team, a two-member team. Their coach has been a good friend for years and we have established an arrangement and friendship where he is trying to assist us with developing our field athletes in Barbados.
“We would have talked about the establishment of a field event facility in Barbados. We have had a number of discussions around that and he was the person that designed the layout of that facility. We are still hoping that will take place in Barbados. Some discussion has taken place at ministerial level, at sports council level and we are hopeful that within the near future that facility will become a reality,” Walcott said.
According to Walcott, Wilkins who has expressed interest in travelling to Barbados and training his athletes will be hosting a workshop January 21, at 10.a.m.
“We believe that this workshop will be a very exciting one for the athletes and coaches. He will share information, techniques and some of his life experiences with everyone. We believe that this will be a starting point for his journey in Barbados in terms of developing field events,” Charles said.
Besides China, Excel Track and Field Club from St. Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to participate along with Kaizen Panthers of Trinidad and Tobago.
Meet director June Rudder said the five-kilometre race was always a major attraction and was different compared to numerous ones held in Barbados.
“There are now a lot of five-kilometre [races] on the annual programme and the Joseph Payne Classic has its unique character in that it is the only one that starts and finishes on the track. What we do is to actually sandwich it between the track events. So, we will have regular track events until about five and then we will launch into the five-kilometre. We will run one or two events while they are on the road and by then the runners will be coming back. As soon as the runners are finished we will resume with the track events. It should be exciting, a precise operation, because we have to fit it into that given time span. But it has worked very well, and it gives the participants an opportunity to run in front of an audience which is good for them,” Rudder said.
The winner of this year’s five-kilometre will receive BDS$250, second place BDS$150, third position BDS$100. Registration for the five-kilometre race is open until January 25th and closes at 3.p.m.
For the track and field event, registration remains open until January 19 and Walcott urged coaches to ensure they adhered to the deadline. In fact, he explained that by complying with the given time period, it encouraged both athletes and coaches to conduct themselves in a professional manner.