By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, said that although he understands and agrees with the decision of the Mondo technicians to return home in light of the coronavirus pandemic, he is still somewhat disappointed that the laying of the matting at the YASCO Sports Complex has been postponed indefinitely.
Cornelius said he had hoped to host at least two major competitions at the refurbished facility this year.
“As I would have said before, my projection of the track is that we would have had it by April because I was watching it and dealing with the people who are doing the track. I was just about to say to Heather [Samuel Daley] that we could have inter-schools and have our nationals when she gave me the news [that the technicians were leaving] so just when I was thinking that, here comes the COVID-19 and the cancellation of everything,” he said.
Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, announced last week that work at the facility had stopped as technicians attached to the US-based track-building company, Mondo, were returning home as countries closed their borders in the fight against the virus.
Cornelius revealed also that the association had been forced to use a large sum of its savings in providing workers with essential equipment to get the job completed.
“Since the technicians arrived here in Antigua we realised there were quite a bit of things that were not explained to us that we needed to have in place in terms of equipment, and as you know, the government cannot regularly write a cheque for us. We had a few dollars in the account for the association and so we have used most of that money, to date, provide them with the things they need so we could have the track ready; that’s what we have been doing for the most of last week,” he said.
“They needed barrows, they needed 2,000 four-inch blocks, they needed spray, they needed tape, just name it,” he added.
Cornelius said, however, that the situation presents them with the opportunity to make needed adjustments ahead of the resumption of work.
The YASCO Sports Complex is the country’s lone track and field facility and had been unusable since 2017.