From mid-February, Barbadian athletes should be able compete on an upgraded track.
This assurance has come from Chairman of the National Sports Council (NSC), MacDonald Fingall, who was speaking at a media briefing recently at the Wildey Gymnasium.
He revealed that the stadium would be closed for approximately two weeks, so that the work could take place.
Mr. Fingall stated that equipment needed to effect the upgrade was already on the island and officials from Mondo were due to arrive this Friday to commence work on Saturday.
The Chairman explained that the schools, which were scheduled to hold their meets at the stadium during that period, were already notified.
While he did not envisage work on the stadium itself would commence within the next two years, Mr. Fingall shared plans to fix the stadium to a point where it was ‘absolutely safe to continue’.
However, he stated that this would only be cosmetic work as the main focus would be on the track, which needs urgent attention.
“The stadium track was abused … because it was used profusely by any and everybody, and it cannot continue so. This stadium cannot continue and the new stadium will not be like that either. We did some checks throughout the Caribbean to find out how they operate with their stadia and we found that only the national team is allowed to train in those stadiums that you have,” he stated.
In the meantime, plans were also afoot to provide alternative spaces for the athletes to utilize.
“We have a programme now where we are upgrading schools. We earmarked six schools and they were geographically chosen. Two would be down in the north, Alleyne and CP (Coleridge and Parry), then the two in the middle, which would be St. George and Lester Vaughan, and then two on the south side, which would be Deighton Griffith and Foundation,” Mr. Fingall said.
The Chairman also revealed that much of the damage done to the track was caused by the athletes themselves, but when the track was reopened, certain practices would no longer be tolerated by NSC officials.
Some of the problems he pointed out include athletes not using the right sized spikes, and starting blocks. To address this problem, he said, the NSC was sourcing starting blocks to be used once the track is usable again.
He said these measures needed to be put in place as it was important that Barbados maintained its IAAF certification to ensure that when records are met, or times are posted, that athletes could qualify for meets. Also, children will no longer be allowed in the stadium without their coaches.