By Neto Baptiste
Track and field coach and a former national athlete, Evans Jones, is confident that work at the country’s lone track & field facility, the YASCO Sports Complex, will be completed by the end of February.
Jones, who is also the deputy director of sports within the sports ministry, believes that once all goes according to plan and Mondo technicians arrive as scheduled this month, the laying of the surface could be completed within a month’s time.
“I am looking forward to 2021 very optimistically, looking forward to the laying of the surface at YASCO track and I am confident we will get it before the end of February, but the pandemic has been like a blessing in disguise for myself and those athletes who would have been training with me throughout the pandemic,” he said.
“We used it as a time to work on areas where we actually weak at and I can tell you that I have seen tremendous improvement in quite a few of the athletes who have been training during the pandemic,” he added.
Sports Minister Daryll Matthew revealed last month that Mondo technicians are due to arrive in Antigua this month and should resume work with the aim of completely laying the surface within a few weeks.
Jones said the absence of a track has negatively impacted those athletes who were looking forward to representing their schools in the annual Inter-schools championships, which have not materialised for the past three years.
“Over the past eight to 10 years, the Inter-schools competitions has been the major competition for track & field in Antigua so it has taken a toll on the athletes and even when I look at Ajani Daley and Soniya Jones, both of whom have not gotten a chance to run for their schools for the last three years but there are other schools who would have had outstanding athletes who were not given the opportunity to compete for their schools for the past three years,” he said.
Despite the long layoff, Jones however believes that with proper marketing, the sport could see growth with the completion of the facility.
“Once we have a proper marketing machinery in place to promote the sport again and I think it would take off on a high level knowing that we would have a brand new certified track. I, as a coach, [am] looking forward to having those athletes I am coaching to performing on that new surface and I know there are some schools that are looking forward to the competition this year here Inter-schools are concerned,” he said.
Work stopped at the facility in March this year after the country recorded its first case of the deadly coronavirus. Since then, there has been no clear indication as to when work would resume.