Project Engineer with Consultant Engineers Partnership (CEP) Natasha Pinder making a point to Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, while Sports Development Officer, Stephen Rowe, and Chairman of the National Sports Council, Seibert Straughn, look on.(C.Pitt/BGIS)

The athletic track at the National Stadium should be completed by the end of February or early March.

This disclosure came today from Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, after he toured the Waterford, St. Michael, facility. He said based on the work that had been done to date, as well as reports from the National Sports Council and the engineers and weather permitting, the track should be completed soon.

"Given the time frame that we have and the discussions between the National Sports Council and the organisers of our two key events – the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletic Championships and the National Primary Schools’ Athletic Championship – the work here will be done in time to allow for those competitions to be held at the National Stadium," Mr. Lashley stated.

C.O. Williams’ Nicholas Dash concurred with the Minister, adding that a significant percentage of the work had been completed. He pointed out that a final layer of asphalt had to be laid so MONDO could put down the synthetic surface and he stressed that while that was being done, workmen at C.O. Williams would finish all the associated drainage work.

Mr. Lashley said he was extremely pleased with the progress of the work and complimented all the persons involved in the project.

According to him, the work undertaken at the stadium was designed to provide significant improvement in several areas, including the drainage, and the angles on the track which were not in accordance with international standards.

"The new track sets the tone for the very high standards that we want out of our athletic competitions3

This is part of the wider picture because not only do we want to enhance the level of performance at NAPSAC and BSSAC…We have set a five-year plan in action to ensure we can improve our facilities in Barbados and we can ensure that we get results from our involvement in some of the major competitions, including the Olympics.

"… To ensure that we medal and perform well, we have to set in place a strategy that will enhance those performances and this is the beginning of that… In the medium term we are hopeful that we can proceed, once funding becomes available, to a total redevelopment of the National Stadium and transform it into the kind of modern sporting facility that it ought to be. But, we will take it in steps, based on the country’s ability to finance the kind of expansion we are looking at. In the first instance we want to start with the netball facility, but ultimately we want to ensure that this facility is transformed," he surmised.

Some of the work being carried out at the National Stadium. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Mr. Lashley told the media a veteran broadcaster from SportsMax Jamaica, contacted him earlier today to provide an update on the stadium and he heard him telling radio listeners that the local championships had been evicted from Kensington

"As Minister of Sports I challenged that misinformation; neither championship was evicted from the Oval and, therefore, I challenge SportsMax to get its facts correct… It was totally disingenuous and certainly not in keeping with the high standards of journalism that I am accustomed to, to abruptly terminate what was supposed to be an interview [because I questioned what he had stated previously]…

"The Oval has a facility’s agreement with the West Indies Cricket Board which has a close off period in which no events can be held prior to the start of a test match or cricket; and that was all that occurred. And, we had always said that we would ensure that the National Stadium would be available for both competitions and that has not changed. In fact, the contractors and all concerned have worked long hours to ensure that we could deliver the athletic track," Mr. Lashley declared.

He contended that "we take sports in Barbados very seriously. As Minister with responsibility for Sports I take sports very seriously. I also take attempts to put out information that is totally incorrect … seriously."


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