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By Carlena Knight

Former national track and field athlete turned coach Heather Samuel-Daley is of the opinion that there will be a surge in the number of persons joining the sport.

Daley, who is also the Director of Sports, said earlier this week, that with the news of the new certified track, several former athletes have made their return along with some fresh faces. 

“Quite recently, we have seen a lot of past athletes coming back, young in age, they are not too old and we are also seeing a lot of young people coming through the fold. In light of the fact that there is no interschool per se, which is a hinderance but I am expecting once this pandemic goes away, we can resume school sports and we can definitely see more participation not only in track and field but in school sports,” Daley said.

Since the laying of the new surface at YASCO, the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) have held several developmental meets and a number of training sessions.

Daley noted that the fact that it is an Olympic year, track and field and the other sports as well within the school programme would normally see an influx.

“It usually happens as well in an Olympic year so really and truly this pandemic has caused a lot of trouble, not only for our sport, but for all the sports because we usually see an uptick in schools’ participation and sports participation with regards to young athletes,” she mentioned.

School sports was halted in the country due to the pandemic last March and has not made its return. Despite permission being given for recreational sports and with news that discussions will take place to begin the first steps in the return of competitive sports, there is no word on when school sports will make its return as the risk of infecting student athletes is far greater, as they are underage and cannot at this time, take any covid vaccine. The high contact sports like football and basketball and the difficulty of hosting any school sporting event is even more risky.

The former Olympian is, however, optimistic that school sports will make a return in the near future.