Commentary by Michael Bascombe
The year 2016 could be a turning point for international track and field in Grenada.
The athletics stadium at Queen’s Park is under reconstruction and due for completion in late 2015. This should set the stage for Grenada to resume staging regional and international athletics and football championships.
Grenada made a successful bid to host the 2016 CARIFTA Games and there are plans to resume the Whitsuntide Games that year. The Grenada Athletics Association (GAA) has also decided to stage the National Track & Field Championships in the month of June, thereby accommodating many of the elite and college athletes.
But the bit of news which has ‘tickled my fancy’ is consideration of an Invitational Meet in Grenada in 2016 featuring some of the region’s best athletes and as a send-off to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
What we can’t say is whether that will include a Kirani James vs LaShawn Merritt 400 metres clash in front of thousands of screaming Grenadians ahead of the Olympic Games. This should also give other athletes an opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd. They include Joel Redhead, Bralon Taplin, Rondell Bartholomew, Paul Williams, Michael Wilson, Kurt Felix, Rawle DeLisle, Janelle Redhead, Kanika Beckles, Nickhelia John, Melika Lewis, Payton Hazzard, Emron Gibbs, Gennard Paul, Lindon Victor, Kellon Alexis, Taj Showalter, Paige Thompson-Charles, and Akido Noel among others.
Both James and Alleyne Francique, a two-time former world indoor 400m champion, are capable of attracting some quality athletes for such an invitational meet.
It’s not a bad idea to be considering at this time and whoever are the brains behind such an initiative should be supported. They should get commitments from stakeholders including the GAA, Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC), Government, and Corporate Grenada.
This requires a lot of resources – financial and otherwise – to realise a successful event. The Government of Grenada must be commended for pursuing the reconstruction of the track and field and football stadium which stands a better chance of creating the economic impact intended. It will be left up to the GAA and the Grenada Football Association (GFA) to maximise on the stadium’s potential. The size of the facility could also be a challenge but one will hope the lessons of the cricket stadium are well considered.
The experiences of the Jamaica International Invitational and the Ponce Grand Prix (IAAF World Challenge) and Invitationals in The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands should also inspire the organisers.
The GAA should be encouraged by the effort of the GOC to expose some of the athletes, starting with the Commonwealth Games in the coming weeks.
There is the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Mexico later this year and a busy schedule for the senior athletes in 2015. They include the IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas, Pan American Games in Toronto, the IAAF World Championships in Beijing and the NACAC and CAC Senior Championships at venues to be decided.
But whatever is decided, there are exciting times ahead for track and field in the region and Grenada is expected to share in the glory.
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