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Nov 10, 2016

National Track and Field Championship: The Comeback for Athletics?

Primary school Track and Field athletes from across the country gathered in Belize City today for the national track and field championship. The students, ages nine to eleven and twelve to fourteen, participated in a number of events in the two categories. It has been five years since the track and field programme has been absent from the schools. So, is this the year that it makes a comeback? The Sports Council believes so. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was the Marion Jones Sports Complex today for the opening of the game.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Patrick Faber hung up his government role for all of five seconds and was in athlete mode on the track to compete against seasoned runner Tricia Flores. After his debut, the national primary school track and field championship was officially open.  Around three hundred students gathered at the Marion Jones Sports Complex for a day of competition. The goal is to see these students develop into star track and field athletes.

 

Ritchel Dominguez

Ritchel Dominguez, Director, National Sports Council

“We have looked at having this track out here and it has been five years since this track hasn’t been used, hasn’t been run. And with me coming on board, I decided that track is one of the things I believe as Belizeans we are very strong. We always have representation out of Belize and we want to bring back the representation here for someone who lives in Belize, born in Belize and get them trained up and into the Olympics and get them as far as  we can take them when it comes to track.”

 

So, to get the athletes ready for bigger international meets, the National Sports Council is working towards ensuring that local meets are at world standards. So, today students are running in the sixty, one hundred and twelve hundred meters, relay, and doing long jump, shot put and base-ball throw – which the sports council hope will see Belize pace higher in regional games like CODICADER.”

 

Charlie Slusher

Charlie Slusher, National Sports Coordinator, National Sports Council

“Because we didn’t do this competition for a long period of time, we went over all the events and we try to bring them in line with the events you would participate in when you go internationally.  So, we had to revise a lot of them. We have been working closely with the President of the BAA, Mister Deon Sutherland. So, the Sports Council- whatever program we do now – can come in line with the associations and the federation. So, we are not doing something that our athletes will not benefit from internationally. And I must say because of that, the winners from these competitions today will qualify automatically to represent Belize internationally in the next month.”

 

Eden Nunez, Holy Family R.C School

“It was tiring.”

 

Eden Nunez

Andrea Polanco

“What place you came in?”

 

Eden Nunez

“First.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did you expect to come in first?”

 

Eden Nunez

“Yes.”

 

Today the Sports Council wants to find stars like Eden Nunez to send abroad to represent Belize next month. And to find others like Nunez, it means that the track and field programme must be re-introduced in schools, after all it has been off for five years. But the Director of the Sports Council says that it takes more than the talent.

 

Ritchel Dominguez

“It hasn’t been in our school programme for five years, but this year and the Minister has pledged that he will support us in getting track up and running because it is a very expensive sport. I think that is why they have drawn back because with the other sports, there are much more people involved. With track it is kids from different schools. So, what you have to do is round them up, but it is here to stay now.  I found out that what has happened is that in Belize is that we don’t do the right thing in terms of getting the kids to play with the right balls and different sort of stuff. And looking at when we host and going to Honduras and seeing that we need help in terms of getting the right equipment. For example, in football we play with a number five ball in Belize; CODICADER plays with a number four ball. So, right away going to CODICADER – the ball is a bit heavier and you have to retrain with the number four ball. So, why don’t we get the ball here in country and using the proper equipment to get the sports done.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

At the end of the competition earlier this afternoon, the Belize District took home the most medals, followed by Stann Creek and Cayo. 

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