Synthetic track opening: 30 minutes time slot an insult to track and field

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At long last the Leonora Synthetic track has a set date to be opened, according to a press release from the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG).

The date set is March 27 and while up to this point neither the Ministry of Sport nor the National Sports Commission (NSC) has confirmed the date stated in the AAG’s press release, the athletics fraternity remains hopeful of the news.

However, what was bulging in the press release was the fact that the AAG was given just 30 minutes to put on a mini track meet at the said opening.

Whether this is the plan by the Ministry of Sport, the NSC or the AAG, it should be viewed as a slap in the face to the sport that has long awaited the completion of the track.

Regardless of who built the facility, its main purpose is to show case Guyana’s top talent, hence to have only 30 minutes of track and field the first time the facility is in use indicates some amount of disrespect for the sport that remains underappreciated and underfunded.

It is unacceptable for the AAG to accept this or suggest it and it is disrespectful for the government to administer or suggest it.

It is understood that the requisite officials will have to make their speeches and the standard procedures followed but after such is done and the ribbons are cut a track meet should be held even if it’s a final in all the events in order to showcase Guyana’s top athletes.

As is the case on many occasions the top governmental official is not obliged to sit through the entirety of the track and field programme after the official opening ceremony.

Instead, the AAG according to their release, plans to only showcase their CARIFTA talent at the event. Where does this leave, Guyana Olympian Winston George who should be the first to test the new facility? Or long time sprint queen Alisha Fortune who has been a staple of the sport for over a decade?

What about the likes of Cleveland Forde and Alika Morgan who run long races and has been Guyana’s top two distance runners for many years? What about Leslain Baird and Natasha Alder both of whom have national records in the Javelin field event? Where do they fit into this opening when all the AAG has is 30 minutes? How ridiculous of a scenario is that?

All of Guyana’s top athletes that make the sport what it is should be a part of the opening, performing on the first ever synthetic facility of its kind in this nation, no ifs or buts.

Hopefully all parties resolve such an issue as the opening is already being seen as part of a political campaign for the upcoming elections. Sports have no room for politics and this would be a downright shame if this is part of the plan of the Government.

Let the opening be for those whom the track was built for – the athletes and the spectators. [Opinion Piece]