A reflection on Inter-Schools Athletics Championship
EDITOR: The fear of the spread and potential impact of the novel Covid-19 disease has led to an unprecedented disruption of life throughout the world. Social or physical distancing is one of the strategies employed to limit the spread of this pandemic. Sporting events are among the categories of activities that are restricted because of their potential to attract large groups of persons in close proximity to each other. Hence, the reason for the cancellation of the remaining finals of the 2020 edition of the Inter-Secondary Schools Athletics Championship. The cancellation, while widely understood, has left many questions, the answers for which reside in the realm of speculation. It has also provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the journey of our premier Athletics Championship for secondary students.
The 2020 edition, if it was completed would have been the 49th occasion of the successful hosting of the championship. It was first held on the 21st of March, 1966, at the Grammar School Playing Field, Richmond Hill. Four schools participated. They finished in the following order: 1st, Boys Grammar School; 2nd, Emmanuel High School Kingstown; 3rd Bishop’s College and 4th Intermediate High School. A group of teachers from the participating schools organized the first championship. Thereafter, the competition was expanded to include a female division and more schools. A five-year period of absence between the 4th and 5th editions of the championships threatened
the continuity of the competition.
The 5th edition, when it was finally held in 1976, was a gala event. A new organizing committee took over the administration of the championship, trophies to be won were put on public display in Kingstown prior to the event and a new venue, the Arnos Vale Playing Field, was used. Most of the secondary schools participated. Once again, the St. Vincent Grammar School (formerly the BGS) won the male division, while the Girls’ High School (GHS) whose participation began in 1967, won the female division. The 5th edition set the trend in large crowd participation.
Subsequently, ‘Inter School Sports’ has been held annually and has become the most popular sporting event on the schools’ calendar.
The St. Vincent Grammar School has dominated the male division, winning 41 of the 48 completed championships. The St. Martin’s Secondary has won 3 (1983, ’85 and ’97). Emmanuel High School has won 2 (1991 and ’99) and the Thomas Saunders Secondary School, which opened it doors in 2005, has won it twice (2010 and 2011). The female division, after the initial domination by the GHS, has been more competitive. The GHS has won 19 championships, the Bishop’s College Kingstown, 7, Bethel/Campden Park Secondary School and the Emmanuel High School Kingstown (EHSK) now the JP Eustace Memorial Secondary School, have won 5 each. Thomas Saunders Secondary and St. Joseph Convent Secondary Kingstown have won 4 titles each, while the Central Leeward Secondary (formerly the Barrouallie Secondary) has won 3 and the St. Joseph Convent Marriaqua (formerly the Marriaqua Secondary School) has won a single championship.
At the time of the cancellation of the 2020 (49th) edition, the Central Leeward Secondary School (CLSS) was in 1st position, ahead of the St. Vincent Grammar School in 2nd position by 14 points. Was this going to be the year when the CLSS won the male division for the fist time? Was the CLSS going to achieve the double (winning both the male and female divisions)? Only the EHSK (1991) and TSSS (2011) have achieved this record. We can speculate, but we will never know the answers to these questions. We therefore look forward to the 50th edition, hopefully next year, with great anticipation of another keenly contested championships.