Saturday, April 20, 2024

NAPSAC revamp a must


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Organizers of the Pine Hill National Primary Schools’ Athletic Championships should take a leaf from Inter-School Sports and shift to back-to-back days of finals instead of a semi-final day.
If nothing else, it will sustain the momentum in the title chase overnight and give those athletes who run the longer distance a chance to recharge for the following day.
Recognizing that some athletes may have to take on a heavy workload to win points, organizers reduced the number of individual events from four to three. That may work just fine for the athlete who has a field event or two in between, but for the runners, it can be a tough day.
For example, an athlete running the 600 or 800 metres at the finals could be back on the line after the 50m and 80m to run the 400 metres. That child may have to run a 100m or 200m later in the day and could be the anchor leg (another 400m) on the sprint medley team.
The Physical Education teacher has remained with the rules set of only three individual events and two relays, but look at the workload.
If fatigue sets in, an athlete may not be at his or her best later in the day and could miss a final, unable to give the best performance at that time.
If there were two days of finals, several changes would have to be made.
Two timed finals
First of all, the athletes advancing from the zone to the 600m and 800m would be going to a straight final on the first morning. This would mean reducing the number of finalists or running two timed finals as is done at the zones.
The Under-7 girls and boys would be up next for the semi-finals of the 50m dash, followed by the Under-13 girls and boys in the 200m semis and the 150m for the Under-9s.
A lunch break would give them some time to recharge, with the evening session comprising the finals of the 50m, 150m and 200m in that order, followed by the 4×100 metres from the youngest to the Under-13s.
The following day would begin with the semi-finals of the 400m, 80m and 100m starting with the Under-13s. After the break, the finals of these events would be held in the same order, with the Under-13s going first in the medley relays. The relays could be switched and the field event finals would be distributed over the two days.
Medley relay
Despite the best efforts to protect the athletes, one may still have to run the 400m semi-final and final and then the anchor leg of the medley, but it beats having to run a 600 or 800m, 400m, 200 or 100m, and a leg on the 4×100 and medley all on the same day, if a child or his/her school is good enough to be in all of those finals.
It’s not a perfect solution, but those with the relevant training could do the brain-storming needed to work out the kinks.
Similarly, there are a number of “fun” events which can be added to the programme which would give other children a chance to earn points like the lime-and-spoon race, the three-legged race or the shuttle relays which can be done during the break.
The children who are taking part in the traditional races would be barred from competing in those events, having earned the rest.
There is a reason why some children walk away from competitive athletics when they get into secondary school. Too much emphasis on winning and not enough on learning the FUN-damentals (my emphasis) of the sport force them into netball, basketball, football, cricket or volleyball where the training is seen as being less vigorous.
After all, at this level, athletics must be seen as building a nursery for the future, not overworking growing bones and muscles to win championships.
 Sherrylyn Toppin is a NATION sports reporter and can be reached at


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