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The heavy sand based outfield at the Arnos Vale Playing Field and the lack of preparation of athletes have been thumbed as the contributing factors for no record breaking performances at the recent St. Vincent Corrugated Container Inc. Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships, which ended last week Wednesday.{{more}}

This was the opinion of Woodrow Williams, the Technical Co-ordinator of the Championships.

Williams, who has overseen several Meets for over two decades, thought that both had influences on the mediocre performances.

Williams indicated that despite the outfield having been rolled on the morning of the Finals, the athletes were visibly sluggish.

“You could have seen the sand coming up, especially on the back straight, which may have affected their times,” Williams added.

The back straight is in the area of the Scoreboard and the Double-Decker Stand, at the south -eastern end of the main playing field.

Williams also believed that the heavy sand created problems even after the Championships.

“Many of them (athletes) complained after of muscle soreness,” Williams, an experienced Athletics Coach, told SEARCHLIGHT.

But equally important in Williams’ assessment was the preparation of some of the school teams.

“Some of the teams were not well prepared,” he said.

“A lot of them do well at their school sports and forget that at Inter-School, they have to come up against others who are training too,” the Sports Officer in the Department of Sports opined.

“Athletes need to understand that there are opportunities out there for them and they must grab every one,” Williams added.

To underline the importance of good preparation, Williams pointed to the performance of the National Under-20 footballers, whom he said were not preparing for Athletics, but because they were involved in endurance and speed work it helped.

Williams singled out the performance of Bishop’s College’s Kyle Greaves, an Under-20 selectee, who returned 49.99 seconds in the 400M, which Williams thought was a direct result of his Football preparations.

Greaves’ time was just 0.5 seconds from equaling the event record set by Eversley Linley, now Dr. Eversley Linley of the St. Vincent Grammar School back in 1988.

Linley’s record is among several with life of over twenty years, with Bernard Thomas, another former student of the St. Vincent Grammar School, the holder of two, which are twenty-nine years old.

Thomas holds the Intermediate Boys 100m and 200m records, set in 1980, in 10.9 and 22.4 seconds, respectively, all recorded at the same Arnos Vale Playing Field with the then savannah grass and dirt track.

However, the venue was dug up and the sand base outfield was the preferred choice as this country sought to refurbish the arena for official warm up matches ahead of Cricket World Cup 2007.

The annual Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships experienced its first sand outing in 2008. It was then quite evident that the surface did not foster the improvement in the times returned by athletes.

And, with the proposed National Stadium at Diamond seemingly pushed back on government’s priority list, some persons here are calling for at least a synthetic track with six or eight lanes, as a starter, to improve on athletes’ times and kindle interest in Athletics.

This proposal is against the background that places like St. Kitts and Nevis and the Turks and Caicos Islands have tried such a model, then improved over time into full stadia.