by Michael Bascombe
NEW YORK, May 14, 2014 – Top finishers in the Caribbean’s biggest junior track and field championship, CARIFTA Games, could soon be competing against their North American peers if a proposed plan becomes a reality.
It’s only an idea but there is the possibility of discussions between the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) and United States of America Track and Field (USATF).
NACAC’s President Victor Lopez said he has initiated a discussion with the President of USATF, Stephanie Hightower on ways to provide more track and field competition for young athletes in the region.
“I was chatting with Stephanie (Hightower) and mentioned that idea to her and it appears she likes it so we plan to talk more about it,” said Lopez, stressing that it’s only preliminary.
“We have not gone into serious discussion as yet but it’s something I need to discuss further with the NACAC family, so nothing is definite.”
“This is a good initiative and I am very much in support of it,” said Lenford Levy, the Director of the San Juan-based International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Regional Development Centre.
Levy said that such a championship could involve Caribbean, United States and Canadian junior athletes but the idea needs to be sold properly.
“I think that will work well especially leading into the world juniors or youth (IAAF aged championships) where the athletes could also participate in a pre-championship camp,” he said.
The CARIFTA Games is considered one of the best developmental meets in world athletics, producing some of the leading track stars including Usain Bolt, Kirani James, Jehue Gordon, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Keshon Walcott and Yohan Blake.
Last month Levy suggested that meet organisers in the Caribbean consider restructuring the Caribbean Track Circuit to cater for developing athletes.
“There is need to streamline the circuit where it’s most needed to include the athletes who are unable to get into the Diamond League and other lucrative leagues in Europe,” Levy told GrenadaSports.
Lopez said that the confederation will consider streamlining the track and field calendar to offer more competition for athletes who don’t usually get lanes in lucrative meets such as the Diamond Leagues and World Challenge Meets.
He said the intention is to provide athletes, fans and organisers a well structured Caribbean Track Circuit which will also give other athletes an opportunity to compete in world class events.
“We develop our athletes through CARIFTA Games and then we don’t get to see them because they go off to Europe to compete where the prize monies are lucrative,” said Lopez.
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