YASCO Delayed Again

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By Neto Baptiste

Track & field athletes here will have to wait at least another five months for the completion of work at the YASCO Sports Complex, the country’s lone track & field facility.

This is according to President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) and government technician, Everton Cornelius, who said the wait could be as long as until June.

“Being realistic, it is so hard to pin a date to it because there are so many underlying factors, to be honest. Even if we had good weather we’d still have to wait for the technician [Mondo] to come when they are doing the paving because we are not going to pave the track unless they are here. Their [Mondo] technicians still need to come back when we are finished putting in all the infrastructural work, and that’s mainly the pole vault, shot-put, javelin, all the runways with the long jump and everything,” he said

“As it stands right now in terms of completion date, what I was looking at going forward is that some time within March [2020] that we will have a track, at least for inter-school sports, or if not, I know we will have a track for our national championships [June],” he added. 

Cornelius pointed to recent persistent rains as one of the main hindrances to the rehabilitation work at the Old Parham Road facility.

“There are some handicaps as you recognize, because rain is falling at this time, and as I have indicated on several occasions, once it is raining, no work is going to take place because this situation there when it comes to the track, ninety percent of the work has to be done in dry weather when we don’t have a disruption with rain; and that is one of the sticking points we are dealing with right now where it’s raining just about every day or every other day so there is not much that can be done where the track is concerned at this point in time,” he said. 

Admitting that the long delay in delivering a finished facility has led to a decline in the number of young athletes coming through, Cornelius is hoping that once the facility is fully upgraded, there will be an influx of new talent coming to the fore.

“I think that just the novelty of having a track that people, more athletes are, if you want to say – the younger ones, will come out and want to participate in athletics and it gives us a better chance of growing the sport. I think that what was probably disheartening to the athletes is that they have been training and training and then when it comes to having some kind of championship or having some kind of meet where they could actually showcase their talent, we don’t really have a place to do that,” the athletics boss said.

Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, had said in September that the facility was scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The upgrading of the YASCO Sports Complex has resulted in the cancellation of at least two schools’ championships and two national championships.

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