Athletics Association and former athlete collaborate to popularise hurdles in A&B

Former national athlete Fred Sowerby (Observer media photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Former national athlete Fred Sowerby is hoping that a near two-week training session on the mechanics of hurdling held at the YASCO Sports Complex has left a lasting impression on the close to 10 young athletes who have been attending the sessions on a daily basis.

Sowerby, who resides in the USA but has agreed to host the sessions on a yearly basis moving forward, said he is encouraged by what he has seen thus far despite progress being somewhat slow as he tries to impart what he says in the “three strides technique” which enables athletes to develop that vital rhythm between hurdles. 

“I am working on that right now, and it’s becoming a little bit of a problem for the kids because it is something that they have to get accustomed to. They are picking it up slowly so by the time I leave here I should have at least one or two people that can do it. They can [sprint] with their regular coach but what I am doing is the hurdles and trying to get them to perfect the hurdles. If I don’t accomplish it this time, then [by when I return]. I made a commitment to Mano [Everton Cornelius] that I am going to be here every year from now on,” he said. 

The former 400 meters specialist who has 45 years coaching experience under his belt, warned that this does not mean that Antigua and Barbuda will automatically start turning out world class hurdlers in a year’s time as the event is something that is very technical and even more demanding than sprinting.

“You’ve got to be an athlete and it’s safe to say that a hurdler is more of an athlete than a regular sprinter. You not only have to sprint just as fast, but you have to hurdle and you have to go over the hurdle in a position to take the next stride off the hurdle. That’s why it’s three strides, so the same foot comes up each time,” he said. 

Meanwhile, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton “Mano” Cornelius said the body is hoping to put measures in place that would ensure the continuity of the programme in Sowerby’s absence.

“Once [Sowerby] leaves, I am going to try to get someone to work with those kids so they would continue to put in play what he teaches them. Hopefully, they would do some reading, they would look at some videos of the hurdles and see if they could pick up some tips from that, where they could slow it down and look at it and read some more about the hurdles,” he said.

The initiative comes on the heels of the national championships as the association moves towards the introduction of new events.

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