The Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) has come face to face with the inevitable as they were forced to cancel the 2020 track and field season until next year because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an official press release addressed yesterday to member clubs and schools, AAB outlined several factors that influenced their decision to write off athletics for the year including senior nationals in June.
In the letter signed by AAB secretary, Trevor Welch, it stated that the board met on Thursday, April 30th and decided to cancel the remainder of the year for several reasons.
“The Board believes that this decision is in the best interest of all concerned and one more appeal to all to heed the advice of the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the guidelines established by the COVID-19 task force which are all geared towards the defeat of the virus and the eventual safe return to normalcy,” the letter said.
The letter further stated what cemented the AAB decision included the impact of COVID-19 on health and safety, access to training and competition facilities, individual and community interactions.
Additionally, guidance taken from the Prime Minister’s recent timelines, uncertainty over the re-opening of facilities, the return to normalcy, the well-being of athletes and other stakeholders in the sport of athletics and more importantly the need to keep everyone safe during this time were among the important factors.
Prior to the cancellation, the AAB has had three major meets – February Classic, Louis Lynch Championship and Junior Nationals.
While the decision to cancel was expected sooner rather than later, Alwyn Babb of Rising Stars Club said he was not surprised by the decision while Gabriel Burnett, head of Quantum Leap Club noted it was disappointing but at the same time what was expected.
One of the top national coaches in Barbados, Babb pointed out that with the cancellation of all other major meets such as the CARIFTA Games for the year and what is occurring globally with the pandemic, he suspected that a number of athletes would have eased up on their training by now.
“I am not too surprised based on what is happening given the cancellation of Crop Over and activities all the way down to November like NIFCA. So, how then do we justify to some persons we are going to have a track meet at the Stadium when people are still apprehensive as it relates to COVID-19,” he said.
Babb suggested that as restrictions eased up, maybe sometime later this year events such as the cross country or races like 60m, 150m, 300m, 600m, 1200m could be held for the athletes just prior to the Christmas break.
Considering the heartbreak many local athletes have had to endure this year, particularly those that qualified for CARIFTA Games scheduled for Bermuda, Babb indicated that by having at least one meet later this year should give them some sort of closure.
“I would advocate that they have active pre-season competition for development. I am hoping that we can see some more participation in the cross country among clubs and they have a vibrant November to December pre-season competitions, “ Babb explained.
Some aspects of the event, he said, should be led by the AAB. He added: “Here we have a number of athletes who have met the qualifying standard (CARIFTA). Some were hoping that they would have had some kind of season, some would have taken up scholarship offers but I am not sure how possible that is with restricted travel to the United States. But I am hoping that we would see a more active pre-season involvement from clubs and schools.
“This has been a trying period for coaches and athletes. We are hoping that athletes take this time to get stronger without the pressure of having to prepare for an immediate competition. Although we are disappointed about the cancellation of major meets, interschool sports and the like, I am hoping the athletes would take a step back because some had concerns about injuries and that they would use this time to heal from injuries.”
Meanwhile, former Olympian and coach Gabriel Burnett said: “Of course, we are disappointed that the season is officially over but it is sort of what we expected. But we are going to keep training at the end of the month so the athletes can taper off and then we will start back training in July, August depending on what schedule the AAB sends out.”
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