By Neto Baptiste
Former national athlete and President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABA), Everton “Mano” Cornelius, believes visible infrastructural advancements in the sport has earned him another four-year term in office.
His statement comes even as the body’s electoral congress, which is constitutionally due this year, may not likely take place until 2021.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Cornelius said that when he first came to office over eight years ago, one of his major concerns was that the association did not have a base for its operations.
“Everything that you see get done at YASCO — before we decided we were going to redo the track in terms of the seating, the office building and everything — they were orchestrated by Mano because I have a vision in my mind. I know exactly what it takes to make the sport run properly, but people don’t want to adhere to that,” he said.
“When they asked me to come back into athletics I told them point blank that I had no interest and I said I was going to run for the presidency myself. They said ‘no Mano, let’s join together’, and I said okay, let’s do it that way. Once we won the election the first meeting I went to I said ‘let me tell you guys something, I am tired of coming to meetings at Mano’s office, Dr. Williams office, this office, the Olympic office and we don’t have no records of anything because we are just all over the place’, and I said it was time enough for us to have a base,” he added.
Cornelius, who said it is like the body’s elections will take place before next year’s Tokyo Olympics, reminded that he has also been able to acquire a number of scholarships for athletes while improving other areas of the sport’s lone facility here, the YASCO Sports Complex.
“From the time I got into track and field I have been getting scholarships and when I was coaching all of my athletes who had potential got scholarships because I went out there and got scholarships. Sometimes, kids come to me and I am trying to help people and they [handlers] would say they have it under control, it’s okay, and I cannot really supersede them so I just leave it,” he said.
“The seating you see at YASCO, when they came they were at the Deep Water Harbour for months and they came and dumped them at YASCO. I called Masonry Products and begged 10 yards of concrete and I am talking about leadership here and I went personally after work every day and put up those seats,” the athletics boss added.
In 2017, Cornelius was unchallenged for the top spot. The process was however shrouded in controversy after a number of potential challengers were told they were not eligible to contest the elections as they did not meet the requirements stipulated within the body’s constitution.