While the recipients of prestigious awards took center stage at the St Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) annual sports awards, the association also took the opportunity to recognize and salute individuals who contributed immensely to the development of the sport.
In a glitzy affair at the Palm Haven Hotel, the MC Anthony DeBeauville of the Voice Publishing Company, did his best to liven up what in the past had been a boring affair. The awards night was well attended with several prominent guests in attendance including Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Fortuna Belrose; President of the SLAA, Cornelius Breen; and President of the St Lucia Olympic Committee, Richard Peterkin.
The feature address was delivered by Coordinator Program and Operations at the United Nations, Armstrong Alexis. He believes that athletics remains the primary spotlight and leading sport that beckons to put our small country on the map.
Alexis made mention of Olympians Levern Spencer, Dominic Johnson, Ronald Promese and Darvin Edwards and feels it is a matter of time, before we begin to produce athletes of the highest international calibre.
While referring to the theme of the athletics awards: “Skills Development: The Stepping Stone to Success,” Alexis said: “My own up front desire is to replace the word success with supremacy, for I think it is time that our athletes break the shackles of success at the national level and begin to stand toe to toe with the region’s and world’s best.”
He called on administrators and government to play their part, by providing adequate facilities and a national vision that embraces sport. However, Alexis was quick to point out the athletes themselves also have a vital important role to play.
Alexis said: “The athlete is not without responsibility, for irrespective of all the well-crafted development plans, visions for sports development, investment or infrastructure, unless there is a commitment towards personal success and a quest for individual world ranked recognition, the height to be attained will remain but a fleeting illusion.”
In closing Alexis said “I want to leave you with three main messages: Firstly and to the athlete I say think big and do not become a superstar until you are a superstar. Secondly and to the administrators, ensure the sport you have committed yourself to, has the secured foundation and vision to grow beyond the boundaries of this country.”
Following his address, the prestigious awards were presented. Jeanelle Scheper who looked every bit a champion and the heir apparent to Levern Spencer, was named Junior Female Athlete. It was a great year for Scheper whose accomplishments included winning the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championship clearing 1.85 metres (m), becoming the first St Lucian to qualifying for the finals of at the World Junior Championships, capturing a bronze medal at the Carifta Games in Bermuda. In addition she is the number one ranked junior female high jumper in the OECS.
The Junior Male Athlete of the Year award went to Mabeq Edgar. Among his accomplishments, this outstanding middle distance runner captured silver medals at the Carifta Games and the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championship. He came away with nine medals in 2012 with seven of them gold. Edgar is the number one ranked junior 1500 m runner in the OECS.
It was really no surprise when St Lucia’s multi Sportswoman of the Year Levern Spencer was named Senior Female Athlete. This world ranked high jumper who is a two-time Olympian, secured her first gold medal in May after cleared 1.88 m. By the end of her track and field season, Spencer had six podium finishes, winning gold mainly at the international level. At the 2012 London Olympics, she came within a whisker of qualifying for the finals.
Albert Reynolds (javelin) is the Senior Male Athlete of the Year. He is the national record holder and continues to dominate the event here. Regionally he is also a force to contend with, coming away with the gold at the OECS Invitational in St Kitts. In fact, this guy won gold medals in every competition he competed in locally and regionally. Will the Olympics be next?
A highlight of this awards night was the presentation of commemorative medals. The first one went to Fred Devaux for his contribution to athletics. He was the driving force behind the M&C Games which spent in the MC’s words “over one million dollars to track and field in this country.”
The next recipient was Mollison Walcott, a former administrator and outstanding technical official.
In addition, commemorative certificates for contribution to the sport were presented to Daves and Hermina DuBois, long distance runner Victor Ledgers, Hugh Breustraall, Francis Lloyd and Acinta Auguste.