Grenada’s athletics suffering

5 years after Hurricane, Grenada’s athletics suffers due to lack of facilities
Grenada National Stadium after Hurricane Ivan (Article on damage)
St. George’s Grenada: Track and field in Grenada was on the rise with the completion of the eight lane mondo track, that was laid down at the National Stadium, in the year 2000.
The Spice Island staged the Junior Carifta track and field Championships for the first time that year, when names like Veronica Campbell and Omar Brown completed sprint double wins for Jamaica and Darryl Browne (TRI) and Janell Williams (ANT) achieved double gold medals, with record runs.

The next year, Grenada was second only to Jamaica at the Junior Carifta Games, in Barbados. The island is known for producing Javelin throwers but has seen the emergence of quarter milers like Francique Alleyne, (two time World Indoor 400m Champion and two time World Outdoor 400m finalist), Hazel Ann Regis, (Pan American and CAC 400m silver medalist), hurdlers Alleyne Lett and Shane Charles.

The Central American and Caribbean Senior track and field Championships were hosted in Grenada for the first time in 2003 and the results of the men’s 100m had a direct impact at the World Championships in Paris, France, where Kim Collins (SKN) and 18 year old Darryl Brown (TRI), after taking the Gold and Silver medals in Grenada, replicated their performances in Paris.

The popular Whitsuntide Games which were staged at the Tanteen Grounds, moved to the National Stadium in 2004 and some of the regional top athletes also made their mark there.
Jamaican Sherone Simpson, not yet 20 years old, clocked 11.01 seconds to win the 100m, then went on to win gold for Jamaica in the women’s 4×100m relay at the Olympics Games in Athens Greece, while Francique Alleyne ran 44.69 seconds to record the fastest time ever ran by a Grenadian. He went on to finish fourth in the 400m in Athens.

2004 was unfortunately going to be a year Grenadians would not forget, as Hurricane Ivan struck the island in September, destroying much of what was in its path including the National stadium and the nearby Queen’s Park Cricket grounds. Queen’s Park facilities was however repaired in time for the International Cricket Council World Cup tournament, which was staged in the Caribbean in 2007…but five years after Hurricane Ivan, the National stadium, still remains in ruins.

Vice-President of the Grenadian Athletic Association, Aaron Moses, says the loss of the stadium was a “significant blow”.
“We do not have the ability to mount the type of athletic meets we had grown accustomed to in the few years prior to the hurricane. While the track is there, there is some damage to it and the other accommodations do not exist. Prior to Ivan, athletics at the stadium was generating tremendous crowd support that served as a source of revenue and as you know, funds are extremely important to keep our organization going and to enable us to pursue the various elements of our development plan. The loss of the use of our Stadium has significantly affected our financial resource basis. Additionally it has affected the athletes themselves, as the facility is no longer what it used to be, negatively impacting the progress of our athletic depth and range.”

Mr.Moses, who is serving his second term as Vice-President, says there are no efforts at this particular time to refurbish the facility, although “there were indications that a friendly government was going to help prior to the recession but at this point in time it is very difficult for any reasonable, rational government to contemplate putting funds into the building of a stadium when there are so many other worldwide priorities. They have to address the basic survival of people and provide basic services for their needs and it is a very difficult thing at this point in time which is unfortunate for us and it seems likely we will have to wait a while for it’s rebuilding.”

Moses said his association is continuing to do its best despite the setbacks.
”We continue to pursue our packed and aggressive annual program. In November we had our half marathon. Come January, we’ll begin to focus and support the various meets of our secondary schools and the Association. In January we still have two road relay meets, then the secondary school meets will commence. We will then have relay meets which will be very competitive and which will attract significant crowd support. Our goal is to mount a range of meets during the months of January thru June.”

He also said his three wishes for 2010 are: “To have the stadium rebuilt – as top class facility is absolutely essential, to put our hands on more resources so that we can deliver, provide for and implement the plans we have for next year’s pretty comprehensive program; unlike last year when we were financially challenged and to see our key athletes improve their performance and times, resulting in a greater impression on the international market.”