The St Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) staged the Independence Invitational over the weekend at the George Odlum Stadium/Hospital.
Athletes competed in the following categories over the two days. Under 13 Male and Female, Under 15 Male and Female, Under 17 Male and Female, Male Open,
When registration closed on February 11, the SLAA received entries from 11 clubs and two schools. However come showtime, the overall attendance did not live up to expectations.
In an interview at the stadium Sunday afternoon, SLAA President, Cornelius Breen said: “To say the least I am pleased with the numbers, however, quite a bit of persons who registered to compete did not show up. It’s left us with some serious concerns as to what we need to do to ensure this does not happen again.”
Commenting on the competition Breen said: “It went very well with some good times and athletes putting in excellent performances.”
However, he feels there is lots of room for improvement when it comes to certain field events which were poorly attended.
“The high jump is becoming an area of concern for us In terms of female high jump,” said Breen. “We have to see about getting more kids involved in the number is dismal.
Given the success of our two world ranked high jumpers Levern Spencer and Darvin Edwards and collegiate Jeannelle Scheper, one would think that would be enough to entice athletes to the event. Not so!
Breen is surprised athletes haven’t embraced the sport, in light of the success of these three athletes. He pointed out that the association shoulders some of the blame and need to do their part, by strengthening their respective programs to ensure they attract athletes to the various disciplines.
Breen went on to say “discus and shot putt is also a worrying problem for us. We have people in the events but they don’t have the technique.”
What’s the solution? Here’s what the SLAA President said: “We as an association need to rethink our approach and sit down, work with the coaches, go out to the respective communities and get youngsters into those field events to boost up the sport of track and field.”
Things are not all doom and gloom for the SLAA. They were in a celebratory mood Saturday evening following the conclusion of the National Sports Awards. Two athletes with the association Spencer and Edward came away with the prestigious Sportswoman of the Year and Sportsman of the Year awards. It could have been more.
Breen said: “I am extremely elated our association came away with both titles. I am happy for them. They put in the effort, the time and it was well deserved.
The SLAA President expressed a bit of disappointment that it was not a clean sweep—Junior Female Sportswoman nominee Jeannelle Scheper (high jump) and Junior Sportsman nominee Denzel St Marthe, lost out to swimmers Siona Huxley and Joshua Runako Daniel.