The St Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) always has a quality field when it comes to representation at the National Sports Awards set to take place February 15 at the Gaiety, Rodney Bay. Judging by the athletes who were honoured at their recent awards night at Palm Haven Hotel this year is no exception.
This formal gala affair held under the theme “Shaping our Athletes for Excellence on and off the Field” was well attended. Special guests included Ministry of Youth Development and Sports official, Patrick Mathurin; Secretary General of the St Lucia Olympic Committee, Alfred Emmanuel; and prominent teacher and official Wayne Benti who delivered the feature address. In addition President of the SLAA, Cornelius Breen along with executive members and coaches were present.
Emerging as the very best from a group of talented track and field athletes were the newly crowned Senior Female Athlete of the Year, Makeba Alcide; Senior Male Athlete of the Year, Albert Reynolds; Junior Female Athlete of the Year, Jeannelle Scheper and Junior Male Athlete of the Year, Mabeq Edgar.
Prior to these four prestigious awards being presented, Breen reviewed 2013 which he characterized as “one filled with successes and a few challenges.”
Given the state of the world economy which continues on a downward slide, Breen pointed out that the association’s financial position is a growing concern. To offset some of their costs, he mentioned that the SLAA is exploring avenues to become more self sufficient, however he expressed a need for the public and corporate sector to play their part in providing assistance.
In 2013, Breen estimated that the expense for the SLAA was in the region of $500,000. Sixty percent of that amount went towards travel costs for athletes and various officials.
Another challenge for the association in 2013 was the lack of collaboration among coaches. Breen said: “For years we have been trying to get our coaches to form a Coaches Association, to ensure the continued advancement of the sport and to enhance their own coaching development. With the formation of the association, they will have a voice on the executive and this will assist with our programming and development. We have been mandated to form the association and this will be done in 2014.”
On the field of play, the SLAA President announced the association competed in six regional and international events, earning 14 medals: seven gold, four silver and three bronze. Athletes like Spencer, Scheper, Edgar, Antonio Maynard, Julien Alfred were among the prominent medal recipients.
This is the association’s main focus in 2014 as outlined by the president. (1) Continue the thrust to develop their human resource base but this time paying attention to technical officials with a Basic Level One TOECS Course. (2) Strengthening of the association’s Games Secretariat. (3) Completion of their Constitution Reform. (4) The formation in February of the St Lucia Coaches Association. (5) The National Development Training Program with the focus on 2016 Summer Olympics, Commonwealth Youth Games 2017, CARIFTA 2014 and 2015, World Relays 2014 and 2015, CAC Age Group, CASCO 2014, YOG 2014, etc.
Breen couldn’t help but comment on the George Odlum Stadium being used a temporary hospital following the fire at St Jude’s Hospital. According to the SLAA President while addressing officials at St Jude’s Hospital, Minister of Health, Alvina Reynolds indicated this January will be the last they will spend at the athletics facility.
Good news indeed for the athletics association and the president who tried to contain his enthusiasm. He said: “I will not want persons to take my joy that St Jude will finally be out of the stadium as a sign of any lack of compassion for the sick, but on the contrary, our association has been very patient and understanding from having full access to a mere one room and the track.”
In addition to the prestigious awards previously mentioned, the following athletes and officials were also recognized: Female Juvenile Athlete of the Year, Julien Alfred; Male Juvenile Athlete of the Year, Antonio Maynard; Most Improved Athlete, Jovon Stephen.
Presidents/Honorary Award, Medal of Merit Gold: General Secretary St Lucia Olympic Committee, Alfred Emmanuel; Hugh Breaustraal, who has served on the executive of SLAA from 1979 to present; Perry Joseph (driver), known as Mr Reliability in the area of transportation.