By Neto Baptiste
There is doubt over whether a number of the country’s top track & field athletes will eventually compete at this weekend’s national championships planned by the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA).
This, according to reports, after some of the athletes raised concerns that the newly laid Mondo surface at the YASCO Sports Complex is yet to be certified by Mondo and that Olympics qualifying performances at the facility may not be recognised by the IOC.
In a recent interview, the president of the athletics association Everton Cornelius said the body is currently awaiting word from US-based track builders Mondo regarding the certification status of the newly laid surface
“I just received correspondence from Mondo asking us to take nine level marks on the track and send that information back to them because they have some concerns about certain things they are seeing at the start of the 100 and the 110 and at the finish line, so they are asking us to check those levels between there and send that back to them. I don’t know the reason behind them asking for the shot-marks and what implications it would have on the certification,” he said.
“When the technician [was leaving] Antigua, he had asked me to do certain things, especially with the water jump because the water jump was a bit too long in a sense and once he indicated that to me then I personally got my men and went in and fixed it before he left so that, at least, he could make sure it was okay,” he added.
So far, professional sprinter Cejhae Greene headlines the list of elite athletes already confirmed for the nationals. US-based high-jumper Priscilla Frederick Loomis is also slated to compete at the YASCO Sports Complex. The country’s top female sprinter Joella Lloyd is also scheduled to be on show with US-based sprinters Tahir Walsh and Chevaughn Walsh rounding off the list of confirmed senior athletes.
Cornelius also revealed that he has recently completed a task given to the association by Mondo where it pertains to levels on certain areas of the surface but admits he does not know how or if it will affect the certification process.
The athletics boss said the body will, however, be forging ahead with plans to upgrade other aspects of the facility.
“We are discussing getting the warm-up track in because we do have the material to get the warm-up track down and I think that working in synergy, that [the warm-up track] will go along with the stands which incorporates our bathrooms and toilet facilities. The warm-up track is not a big thing because the certification of the track would come based on the fact that we listed the Antigua Grammar School as the warm-up area if we are having a national or international meet,” he said.
The athletics association is set to host its first national championships in four years after it had been forced to cancel the events over the then unusable state of the facility. The two-day event is slated for June 19 and 20 with limited spectators allowed inside the venue.
Reports indicate that a decision will be made this week as to whether those athletes still seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics will take part in the nationals.