Jan 08, 2016 Sports
By Edison Jefford
Lack of innovation and the catastrophe that enveloped Guyana’s CARIFTA Games participation
piloted the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) to a modest performance in 2015 when there was a reservoir of opportunities available to improve the work of the association.
The year under review began with Guyanese distance athletes dominating the twelfth edition of the Bigi Broki Waka 10km and 5km races over the Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge. Cleveland Forde, Lionel D’Andrade, Andrea Foster and Alika Morgan were the athletes who did well in Suriname last January.
The AAG began its programme early in February with a Development Meet at Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Ground where South American Youth gold medalist, Jason Yaw showed authority among the seniors with two impressive wins in the 80m and 600m.
The following weekend the association hosted a Cross Country Race in Linden, which began and finished at the Bayrock Ground, Wismar. But the benchmark meet, and source of much controversy for the association, followed.
After trials early in March, the AAG shortlisted nine athletes for the annual CARIFTA Games in
St. Kitts & Nevis, April 4-6. Seven athletes in the U-18 category made qualifying times while no athlete made the standards in the U-20 group. Those shortlisted were Compton Ceasar (U-18 Boys 100m, 200m); Matthew McKenzie (U-18 Boys 1500m, 3000m); Kenisha Phillips (U-18 Girls 200m); Cassie George (U-18 Girls 1500m);
Claudrice McKoy (U-18 Girls 3000m); Chantoba Bright (U-18 Long and Triple Jumps) and Natricia Hooper (U-18 Girls Triple Jump)
In addition to those U-18 athletes, middle distance U-20 athlete, Ornesto Thomas was included on the team
along with United States-based sprinter, Brenessa Thompson. Both Yaw and Tevin Garraway were left off of the shortlisted team.
However, things went wrong when flight issues prevented Guyana’s locally-based athletes from competing at the Caribbean’s most prestigious Junior Track and Field Championships. President of the AAG, Aubrey Hutson, had said that locally-based athletes bound for the meet will have to remain at home unless the association sources US$20,000 to charter an aircraft.
Asked why the AAG waited until the week of the Games to pursue flights, Hutson indicated that the association had an arrangement where 15 seats were secured since January on the Trinidadian charter to the Games, but those were not guaranteed.
Hutson then tried a similar route on the Jamaican charter and that too failed. Fly Jamaica also fell through with procuring flights for the team. As a result of the travel imbroglio, US-based sprinter Thompson was Guyana’s lone representative at the 2015 CARIFTA Games, a first for the association in four years.
The administrative blunder forced the non-participation of some of the athletes at the CARIFTA Games; some of whom were headed to the event for the first time. Meanwhile, others like George, were defending titles they won in 2014 in Martinique.
George won 1500m gold and 800m silver as a 14-year-old U-17 athlete in 2013 in The Bahamas. George returned in 2014 to put in a double gold medal performance in the same age group when she landed
medals in the 1500m and 3000m events. The travel issue last year prevented George, for instance, from establishing a legacy for Guyana.
The AAG postponed a planned National High School Championship later in March where it was planning to host the best athletes from nine districts, but all arrangements were not finalized in time to host the event, according to a press release. The competition would have been the AAG’s first innovation, but it never materialised.
The death and burial of the Guyana Olympic Association and the AAG Administrative Secretary, Shanomae Blackmore capped a very dark March in the sport last year. Blackmore passed away at her home following a brief illness.
The following month, Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) sprint ace, Rupert Perry returned to form following an accident-related absence from the sport with a scintillating performance that ignited stories of his dominance on the local circuit prior to his hiatus.
Perry blasted 10.1 seconds in the male 100m to mark the opening of the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora; an incomplete synthetic facility opened prior to the May 11 General Elections after approximately five years of construction, numerous delays and setbacks that landed some of the contractors reportedly before the Courts.
The athletics association was wrapped up in another travel imbroglio when five athletes: George, Caesar, Hooper, Samuels and McKenzie, bound for South America Association of Pan American Youth Athletics Championships, were left in Guyana. The report emanating from the youth team was that an athlete forgot a passport at home, resulting in the setback.
Perry continued his impressive return to the apex of local sprinting when he sprinted his way to a 200m title at the National Track and Field Centre in the National Senior Championships in June.
Police Progressive Youth Club, and Running Braves Athletics Club, ran away with the lion share of the spoils at the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) Relay Championships at the National Track and Field Centre late in July.
Meanwhile, Police’s Winston George represented Guyana at the World Championships in China last August. The AAG had also selected junior athlete, Andrea Foster to attend the World Games along with George.
Also in August, Police Progressive Youth Club edged GDF to win the Sixth Edition of the Boyce & Jefford Track and Field Classic. However, in October GDF exacted revenge when they flipped the script on the Police to win the third Inter-Services Annual Athletics Championships (ISAAC) title in four years.
Linden’s sprint ace, Compton Ceasar finished seventh in the finals of the 100m in Samoa, at the Commonwealth Youth Games with a time of 10.7 seconds in September. Ceasar had entered the finals with a personal best time of 10.60 seconds in the first round.
Ceasar also made the finals of the 200m. Hooper entered the 400m with a time of 55.04 seconds and placed 4th with a time of 57.04. She missed the finals. These events unfolded before Forde took pre-eminence in what can be now called ‘Road Race Season’.
Forde raced to wins in the Ainlim and Courts 10km Road Races later in September. However, he was stunned in the second leg of IAAF’s South American 10km Road Race, when two Peruvians and a Kenyan relegated him to fourth place for the first time in a decade.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s distance-running duo, Kelvin Johnson and Lionel D’Andrade continued to enjoy overwhelming success in Trinidad where they are based. The duo consistently topped road races, placing first and second, in the Twin Island Republic.
The 55th National Schools’ Cycling, Swimming and Track and Field Championships was held in November where Upper Demerara/Kwakwani won their 14th overall title. Kenesha Phillips, and several other young athletes, put on a show over the course of one week at the National Stadium, Providence.
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