Once repaired, stricter regulations are coming to govern the use of the track at the National Stadium.
This was made clear today by chairman of the National Sports Council (NSC) Macdonald Fingall, who said the days of the surface being “abused” were gone.
At a press conference held at the NSC’s office at the Wildey Gymnasium this morning, Fingall revealed that officials from Mondo – a world leader in track and field surfacing – would be arriving in Barbados on Friday to begin repairing the badly damaged track.
Fingall said remedial work on the track was expected to take seven days with a further three days needed for “time to heal”.
As a result the Stadium will be closed from Saturday until February 11.
During this time, repairs to other sections of the Stadium including railings and eroded walls will also be done.
Fingall said he was unable to give a figure of the cost of the repairs at this present time.
However, the chairman contended that once those repairs were completed only national teams would be allowed to practice on the track.
Fingall said a meeting would soon be held with those track clubs which were accustomed to using the Stadium for their practice sessions to inform them of the change.
“It cannot be business as usual. The Stadium track was abused and that is the only word I can use because it was used profusely by any and everybody and it cannot continue so. This Stadium cannot continue and the new Stadium will not be like that.
“We did some checks through the Caribbean to find out how they operate with their stadiums and we found that only the national teams really train in those stadiums. Even when we checked with people who go to Russia and those places, they are not even allowed to train on the actual track, they train other places,” Fingall maintained.
“We intend to meet with all of the track clubs to explain the new order.”
In fact, Fingall said some of the athletes who used the six-year-old track were partly responsible for damaging it.
He explained that the surface had been mutilated because athletes had worn the wrong spikes and because they had also failed to use starting blocks when practicing.
“We found out also that some athletes were not using the right sized spikes. When you go on grass you use like a half-inch spike…whereas for the track you use a quarter-inch spike and the guys from Mondo said from their experience they had observed that,” the chairman pointed out.
“We also realized that the starting area was damaged and that was because they didn’t use blocks. When you use blocks you push against the blocks…but because athletes were there running, running all the time and never using the blocks when they were training they were scratching up the surface. So in essence the people that were complaining about the damage to the Stadium are the people who damaged it, but that will no longer happen.”
Fingall said blocks were being sourced and would have to be used when using the new track and athletes would also be policed to ensure they wore the proper spikes.
He said it was imperative that the track be kept in good condition so as to retain its IAAF certification.
Fingall said without that certification, new records would not be upheld neither would qualifying standards for international meets be acknowledged.
With the Stadium set to be off limits for hundreds of athletes, Fingall disclosed that the NSC had embarked on a programme to improve the fields of schools across the island.
He disclosed that six secondary schools: Alleyne, Coleridge and Parry, St George, Lester Vaughn, Deighton Griffith and Foundation would soon have their fields upgraded.
Fingall said this would provide additional options for schools and track clubs to hold their sports and practice meets.