Friday, March 1, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE – Time to upgrade National Stadium


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Good work should be recognised with the appropiate reward.
Much has been rightfully made of the success of the athletes at the 40th CARIFTA Games but I hope that those who govern will find the will to lay a new track at the National Stadium very soon.
This will match the many accolades they have received with their excellent performance in Montego Bay.
I know minister of Sport Stephen Lashley has pledged some urgency in the matter but very often sports-related issues get put on the back burner when there is a financial squeeze.
One of the first victims of our rationalisation process with the onslaught of the global economic crisis was the proposed multi-purpose facility on the site of the current netball stadium.
While we accept as members of Team Barbados there’s a need to prioritise, there is the feeling that sports will always be a sacrificial lamb in times of crisis because its true value to national development is not recognised until some individual or team makes us proud.
This scenario provides the perfect stage for national grandstanding and the feats and the glory brought to the country is soon forgotten once the proverbial nine-day wonder reaches its course.
In many instances, the required support was not provided up front that would justify some jumping on the bandwagon after success has been earned.
It is all well and good to speak about the dedication and hard work put in by the athletes but it is equally important to provide the appropiate infrastructure and environment that will help them to soar and enhance national esteem in the process.
In times like these, performances at CARIFTA Games can help to lift spirits that are darkened as a result of the economic woes with which we contend. Those responsible should be respected to the fullest and duly rewarded.
Obadele Thompson’s bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and Ryan Brathwaite’s World Championship medal in Berlin in 2009 provided a level of impetus to the national psyche that is hard to match.
The other similarity shared by these outstanding sons of the soil is that they both made appeals for the relaying of the stadium track and to no avail up to now.
They both echoed concerns about getting hurt on a surface that has outlived its worthiness by several years.
In fact, it is in a condemned state that does not allow for the hosting of international events and by extension for records to be recognised.
It would have been so wonderful for Barbados to host the recent CARIFTA Games in honour of Austin Sealy who founded them 40 years ago.
I am sure that we would have offered to be host after some countries were unable to but alas our facilities are not up to international standards so we couldn’t even if we had the means to.
Beyond the current situation, we have to think long-term because of the growing national passion for athletics we can capitalise by seeking to stage at least one major international meet every year.
Wouldn’t it be a major boost for our sports tourism product if we can, for argument sake, host the Ryan Brathwaite Invitational annually?
Sadly, such thoughts must stay deposited in the back of our minds until we upgrade our stadium facilities with a new track leading the pack.One good turn deserves another. 
Andi Thornhill is sports editor of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.

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