Exciting Joint Services climax set for today
Police, Soldiers dig deep in close contest
By Edison Jefford
First it was the war of words, then it was two initial days of battle and now it is down to a ‘Final Day’ of combat with the Soldiers taking on the Police in the Annual Joint Services Track and Field Championships at Camp Ayanganna.
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Base Camp will be transformed into a war zone today when the two frontrunners in this year’s competition collide with just 12 points untying a second-day lead that the Police took on Wednesday.
The Soldiers had led the Guyana Police Force (GPF) 92-90 after the first day on Tuesday with the Police returning the following day to go up 238-226. The Guyana Fire Service is in a distant third while Combined Services in fourth.
Both team coaches of the frontrunners exuded confidence when they spoke with Kaieteur Sport yesterday with Police Coach, Lyndon Wilson admitting that the competitiveness of the Soldiers surprised them in the 2009 calendar event.
“I will not lie to you; they caught us off guard. They did a lot of homework and came out well on the first day but we manage to get a 12-point lead that gave us a slight advantage into the last day (today),” Wilson indicated yesterday.
The Soldiers gave the defending champions, Police a real run for all they are worth when the team managed to draw even with them before the final event on Wednesday. Both the Police and Soldiers had battled to 197 points.
It took the Triple Jump event that was the last on day two to give the Police their 12 point lead over the Soldiers. “I am saying that the 12 point lead don’t guarantee that you are the victory but they have catching up to do” Wilson concurred.
The Police Coach said that their strategy is to maintain the lead over the first six events in an attempt to put the Defence Force under pressure. However, conversely, GDF Athletics Coach, Robert Chisholm has a team plan to implement.
Chisholm shared the view of Wilson when he indicated that “12 points behind (with all of the Final Day to spare) is not anything”, but what matters is the final score-line and when that is revealed, he said, the Soldiers will be the winners.
“When I do my calculations based on the events coming up tomorrow (today), I see us in a winning the championship. I know we will place highly in both the 100m and 200m and that should help our points a lot,” Chisholm believed.
Police has national 100m Champion, Michael Saul in that race and the 200m along with a former junior champion, Keith Roberts. Police also has the edge in the female versions of both races with Leota Bobb aiming to crack the meet records.
Bobb told this newspaper that she will be looking to set new Joint Services records in the 100m and 200m events. However, the meet records for the meet since it restarted in 2008 are still to be ratified at the Games’ Committee level.
In a passing comment on Wednesday, Saul, who sustained an ankle or calf muscle injury said that he will be fit to run. “I will war,” he said when asked if he will compete with the injury. Saul has the key to Police’s sprint-double chances.
Chisholm has refused to publicly name his athletes for those two leading sprint events but the athletics coach remained adamant that the sprint weapons in the GDF Arms Store will surprise those “big names” when they are unleashed.
“I knew what we prepare for and up to now, everything went just as how we planed it and things have fallen into place,” Chisholm told this newspaper, adding that he is both proud and confident about the team’s prospects today.
Some of Guyana’s premier distance athletes, Alika Morgan, Jevina Straker and Cleveland Forde are expected to compete in the Invitational Male and Female 1500m. A 100m Male and Female race for invited athletes was also programmed.
The Joint Services Track and Field Championship returned to the annual calendar in 2008 following a ten-year hiatus. Before its resuscitation last year, Police had won in 1996, ’97 and ’98 with Militia winning in ’95 and GDF the year before.
The Defence Force is therefore looking for a first overall win in the New Millennium and since 1994, which is 15 years ago. Conversely, the Police are defending their title and has three wins before the competition stopped in 1998.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and President of Guyana Bharat Jagdeo is anticipated to formally open the championships and accept the March Past while heads of services are also expected to be present at the event.