As the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) prepares to roll out its 2021 season after several interruptions, two senior national coaches are happy to see local track and field return tomorrow afternoon at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
Olympian and head of Quantum Leap Gabriel Burnett along with Alwyn Babb, an IAAF Level IV certified veteran coach both said this was a significant step for local track and field after months of setbacks.
“I think it is a significant step for local athletics because it has been hard for the athletes that have been training since last year. Especially since the season came to an abrupt end,” Burnett said.
He added that the athletes have been craving track and field and these meets which are expected to run down to July would help.
“They are watching and seeing sports happen all over the world, whether it is in Jamaica, the United States or Europe. So, I think the AAB being able to put on a meet is going to help the athletes, mentally and physically in a sense in terms of us getting back to some sense of normalcy,” he added.
All of Quantum Leap’s big guns are expected to feature tomorrow on the Ryan Brathwaite track at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex (UBSC).
After the cancellation of CARIFTA for the second year in a row, Burnett noted that for years he has been getting his athletes to think beyond CARIFTA.
“I have been trying to get my athletes to think and prepare beyond CARIFTA. We have it that CARIFTA is the end all and be all of track and field in Barbados but it is not.
“We expected CARIFTA to be cancelled based on what was happening in Bermuda. But we have been preparing for Pan American and all the other meets that are on the schedule. The athletes have been preparing for those meets.
“We train towards the bigger meets because if you qualify for the bigger meet then that means you qualify for CARIFTA. So, that is the mindset Quantum Leap has taken for the last couple of years,” Burnett explained.
Known for producing some of the top sprinters and hurdlers in this country, Alwyn Babb head of Rising Stars Club said despite the cancellation of CARIFTA, there are still other international events local athletes can look towards such as National Association for College Admission Counselling (NACAC) age group championship.
“After the postponement of CARIFTA and two inter-school sports, I think the athletes are eager to get back out there. There are still some junior meets for the remainder of the year.
“So, there are still some things to look forward to and I know the athletes would want to have some type of footage outside of training for coaches at the colleges and universities to see them compete. Even if it is at a local level,” Babb said.
As it relates to the AAB meet which at some point will include senior nationals, Babb stated that only those athletes who in their creative way have managed to maintain some level of fitness are the ones that will be allowed to compete.
He also complimented the coaches who came up with creative ways to keep their athletes motivated and training during the ongoing pandemic.
“Coaches must be complimented for their creativity which they adopted during these trying times to have athletes ready for a competition in a short space of time. It takes a lot of motivation and encouragement by coaches to keep a lot of our athletes interested after the cancellation of various meets,” Babb stressed.
The meet is expected to run off tomorrow at 2.p.m. In addition to running, all jumps will take place at the UBSC while the other field events are expected to take place at the Stadium.
When contacted today, renowned sports administrator and public relations officer for the AAB Esther Maynard assured that after several setbacks – national lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the volcanic ashfall from St. Vincent and the Grenadines – everything was on stream for tomorrow.
“We are doing the last double checks of the facility, equipment and stuff like that. And making sure it is all clean and sanitized. The entries are in and it is not an overly large meet but it is good to get back out and I think we will see more people in the next week or so coming back out. So, we are on target for tomorrow,” Maynard said.
According to Maynard, it is not an overly large meet but she expects more people to join from next week going forward. Despite not giving a figure with regards to the number of entries, she noted that the number of entries for this meet reflects the number of athletes that have been training.
“The coaches have taken the sensible approach that unless you have been training, you don’t get entered,” Maynard added.