IMPROVED PERFORMANCES are expected from the national athletes at the NAAA (National Association of Athletic Administrations) NGC/Sagicor National Open Championships from June 24-26, as a refurbished track at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo will be utilised at the Olympic qualifying meet.

The Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith, NAAA president Ephraim Serrette and executive manager at the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago Anthony Blake were all present at the Stadium yesterday while IAAF certified company Pro-Plastics were at work on the track.

The starting area on the track and the javelin area are being refurbished and will be completed by tomorrow. In the coming weeks the training track next door will be completed. The total cost of the job is over $3 million.

Minister Smith said they are trying to meet the needs of the NAAA. He said, “we always consult with those involved and we are very close to the NAAA and this is what they requested. It’s no secret with regard to funding but we were able to put aside the money to do this before the Olympics and this will be done by Wednesday and the athletes will be very happy with regards to the qualifications that is coming up for the Olympics.”

Smith added that keeping the Stadium at a quality level will benefit everyone. “We want to have the Stadium at a standard so our elite athletes will come and use the facility.
We are changing the policy to facilitate the grassroot and young people. They will have access to the track and see the athletes train and use it as well.” The Minister added he plans to ensure the Stadium stays at a high standard. “We need to put measures in place. This is where there is more wear and tear, at the starting blocks and at the javelin area. We have to keep on top of it. What would have happened in the past we would have ignored it and it would have worn away. If we have to do this next year we will do it again.” Serrette is happy with the new developments but said the timing could have been better as the National Championships are coming up. Serrette said, “it is good and bad news for us. The good news it is being repaired but the timing is not the best which we don’t have control over. We just have to work around that. I have been given the assurance that this work will be completed by Wednesday so by Thursday the athletes who have specific type training will have use of the facility.”

Blake spoke about the engineers working on the new track. He said, “it has been a challenge to get engineers here. There is nobody certified in the Caribbean that can do an IAAF certified track. You must be certified by the governing body to actually conduct repairs and do installations. The team that is here is Pro-Plastics Limited. They would have done the tracks at Larry Gomes, Mannie Ramjohn and they were the orgininal installer at Hasely Crawford Stadium.”

Blake expects improved performances after the new track is complete. “History would show that this is the fastest track in the Caribbean. Most of our national athletes would have done their personal bests at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. We believe in Pro-Plastics and their system.”