Gold Medalist blasts ideas for track opening; reveals her role to secure Kirani James

The synthetic track.

[] – Guyana track legend and Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Aliann Pompey expressed her disappointment with the ideas for the opening of Guyana’s first synthetic track at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.

With the track set to open on March 27, according to an Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) press release, Pompey, who was asked to communicate with Olympic and World Championship gold medalist, Grenadian Kirani James in hope of securing the athlete for Guyana’s opening expressed her sense of despair as well as disappointment to iNews Sport.
“I have been on my own version of an emotional roller coaster since hearing about the grand opening of the track at Leonora. I became swept up in all the possibilities – in the grand hope that some young person can do for Guyana what I couldn’t for all these year – medal at the Olympics or World Championships. I see this as an opportunity to create a sustainable, supportive culture in the sport, and a huge step in the direction of providing the necessary facilities to the advancement and success of our athletes. 

“The news I received subsequently washed all that away.”

Pompey, Guyana 400 meters record holder explained her role.

“I was contacted to reach out to Kirani James, the Grenadian Olympic Champion who has the full backing of his government and national businesses and everyone else in the world, to see if he was available to travel to commemorate the occasion. I raised several concerns including the cost of securing such a big name and the  exclusion of those who have done so much for athletics – and let’s be honest, with minimal or no support. Much unlike Kirani,” Pompey noted.

However, her optimism soon turned into astonishment.

Aliann Pompey

“I was blind shocked when I was then informed that just 30 minutes will be allocated to track and field, on an evening when track and field should be center stage.”

Astonishment soon turned to confusion for the four time Olympian, “It remains a mystery to me that major stakeholders in athletics weren’t even contacted much less consulted on this. It reeks of afterthought and unimportance. Is that the message we are sending? Who exactly was the track built for – since it seems like Kirani James and cricket will be the show piece? What is the message the planning committee is sending to those that have sacrificed portions of their lives to raising the Golden Arrowhead high? And those doing so now?” Pompey mused.

Pompey also ripped the government for their lack of foresight, noting that an occasion meant for highlighting Guyana’s track and field legacy can easily be tarnished with the level of ineptitude being shown by the current stakeholders.

“The lack of governmental support has been disheartening. Only made worse by the idea that when presented with a chance to do the minimal required to feign support and acknowledgment, it was ignored. The legacy left by Gilkes, Burnett, Griffith, Ford, Martial, Bynoe, Barr, Collison, Innis, Chales, Fletcher just to name a few, will not be celebrated. And that’s an unforgivable travesty.”

And while the all the facilities the government has built could be a positive on their side, Pompey asked: “They’ve built them but limited access, what’s the use?”

Further, Pompey who noted that her numerous requests for support from the government during her days at peak condition went unheard, only wished that a dire situation will possibly get better.

“I have contacted Minister Dr Frank Anthony and Director of Sport Neil Kumar. I got the same response that I have gotten when I’ve made numerous supplications for support over the years – nothing.

“Those of us who’ve undertaken the sport have done so in the hopes that our struggles and hurdles do not become those of the people after us. That each year, things get better. But it hasn’t. And it must.”