Home : news : articles : 2022 : 05 :

NAAA boss expects 'competitive' relay festival on Sunday
Sprinter Jonathan Farinha -

NAAA boss expects 'competitive' relay festival on Sunday

Go Back : Newsday : Newsday Reporter : 21.05.2022


ATHLETICS fans can enjoy some "competitive" relay action on Sunday at the Republic Bank NAAA Relay Festival, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, from 1 pm.

Trinidad and Tobago has a rich tradition and good record in relay events at major international competitions.

At the 2008 Beijing Olynpics, TT were retroactively awarded gold in the men's 4x100m. Team TTO also won gold at the 2017 IAAF World Championships (men's 4x400) in London and the 2019 World Relays (men's 4x400) in Yokohama.

Recently, the national Carifta team won five relay medals in Jamaica - boys under-17 4x100m (silver), boys under-17 4x400m (silver), boys under-20 4x400m (silver), girls under-17 4x100m (bronze), girls under-20 4x100m (bronze).

Unlike previous relay festivals, this year's competition will be not contested by clubs, but by zones. Clubs registered under the NAAA have been assigned to zones based on their geographic locations: North/West, North/East, South/Central and Tobago. Each zone will field two teams to fill all eight lanes on the track.

In an interview with Newsday on Friday, president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) George Commissiong explained the reason for the switch from a club-based system to a zone-based system.

"We made this change to create competitive balance. Generally, people enjoy a sporting event where they can't predict the winners," he said.

"Clubs tend to specialise. For example, Abilene (Wildcats) produces most of the quarter-milers (in the country). So, in the men's 4x400m, almost anyone can bet that they (Abilene) will win the race."

Commissiong believes that the new zonal system will allow more athletes will be able to participate and will change the relationship of athletes from being competitive to being collaborative. He said this will augur well for national development. "Rival clubs will now have to co-operate and work as one."

Co-ordinators and assistant co-ordinators were appointed to each zone to manage the selection process for athletes to compete. Commissiong said that some zones conducted trials while others selected athletes based on their performances for the year so far. It is not prohibited or illegal for all four athletes on a team to be from the same club. However, an athlete is restricted to just three events.

The competition will be based on a point system. First place will be awarded eight points; second place - seven points; third place - six points; fourth place - five points; fifth place - four points; sixth place - three points; seventh place - two points and eighth place will earn one point. The champions will be determined by the total number of points earned by a zone.

There will be also invitational events including a men's 4x100m and a women's 4x100m for the protective services (Police, Fire, Prison, Defence Force, Coast Guard, Air Guard) and the Trinidad and Tobago masters teams.

Patrons can expect to see Darrel Brown, Emmanuel Callender and Chevron Simpson back on the track. An open men's 1500m is scheduled as well.

Commissiong said it has been a challenge to get athletics back on track.

"Most of the work included securing and preparing the venue since nothing was done over the past two years. Some of the lines needed to be repainted, particularly the finish line, as the photo-finish camera would not be able to detect the lines if they were dull.

"We also had to ensure that all staff - umpires, starters, registration officers - were prepared as we have 400 athletes participating, as well as the spectators who may be attending. This is the biggest event of the year."

Commissiong is excited to see the athletes in action.

"The junior athletes have been excellent this year. Based on their performances, I think the two-year break may have been beneficial for them, as athletes who may have been injured had the time to rest and recover. They have been excited to compete and that has manifested itself by their consistent high standards for the year so far."

Commissiong added, "the under-20 athletes were required to meet the Carifta, Pan-American and World standards, and most of them did just that. It seems like they came back with a high level of determinationÉ and the Junior Championships hasn't even reached yet!"

He said the NAAA is keen to help the under-20 athletes transition to senior level as many usually struggle to compete against professional athletes when they advance past the junior stage. He said TT's foreign-based athletes are succeeding at the collegiate level and believes their local-based counterparts can follow suit.

In action on Sunday will be Olympian Jonathan Farinha and his twin Nathan Farinha, Shaniqua Bascombe, Troy Llanos, Shakeem McKay, Revell Webster, Kaiyin Morris, Kayleigh Forde, Khareem Solomon, Tyrell Springer, Kirdell McIntosh, Janae DeGannes, Kamaria Durant and Kyah La-Fortune.