Our Immediate Athletics Future
Dominican athletes were said to have secured our best results at this year's Junior CARIFTA Games in Martinique. It is a case for elation to some extent, but equally this allows scope for taking a hard look at our athletics situation and assessing the future in disparate fashion. Emmanuel LoBlack, lead official with the Dominica team was willing to field questions mainly of a development nature.
What were the faculties like in Martinique?
As you know, Martinique is a department of France and they lack nothing in facilities in and around Fort de France. Eight Tartan synthetic athletic tracks are on offer and there were a number of grass areas for warm-up etc. as many as 7,000 to 8,000 spectators turned up, including leading government officials.
We had our Chelsea Linton taking gold in the heptathlon. Outline the range of events showcased in this.
It covers eight events: 100 metres hurdles, 200 metres, 800 metres, shotputt , discus, javelin, long jump and high jump competed over a two day span. Chelsea at a height of about 5 feet 11 inches is very well-built and coordinated. She was able to get the better of the Jamaican champion by over 50 points reaching 4648 points. Her strongest events are currently the 200 metres, the shot and long jump. This was Chelsea's last year at the CARIFTA Games.
How long has Chelsea been training?
She has been at it from primary school and carried her effort and performances into secondary school at the Northeastern Comprehensive School in the Marigot area. That's at least ten years.
Projections for the heptathlon are what at present?
We are looking at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico in July of this year. Immediately the matter of high altitude would be a concern making it sensible to arrive early in Mexico for acclimatization purposes. We can't afford much but a week would be useful.
Where do you envisage the installation of our athletics track in Dominica?
From my perspective Warner would be a good site. A sum of five million U.S. dollars could be an excellent start. Say, we might lay down the track first and later the related infrastructure. I can see the International Amateur Athletic Federation contributing half a million U.S. dollars to kick things off. The track would incorporate a football field within and vitally, too, a gymnasium.
As a former schoolteacher, what are the imperatives for the development of athletics in our schools?
First thing, the problem of sports ceasing in the third form in most secondary schools is backward and indeed laughable. A better system must be put in place if we are to escape being altogether primitive. Some schools go all out for their sports but they tend to concentrate on the disciplines in which they are outstanding. The Dominica State College must take a much more enlightened stance towards sports.
Where are the proposals to enhance prospect for producing an Olympic champion?
The potential is available. This must be supported by financial assistance to enable our young athletes to travel oversees to attend regional and international competitions. Our corporate bodies must sponsor local meets, assist in providing training equipment and even nutritional aids. Similarly, the media should come up with prime exposure. Government Information Services ought to grant extensive exposure to our local meets. It would be quite nice to see NIKE and ADDIDAS coming on board. Some oversees colleges have shown interest in Chelsea Linton.
Have you developed an outlook as to how our young athletes may strengthen their prospects?
Our athletes may do much better at the CARIFTA and other games by steadying their focus. They are too restless and need to show greater maturity by accepting that they need to devote more time to getting the measure of rest they need. Athletes from other territories display much greater self-control.
The next International Games demanding this greater degree of self-control would be?
Pan American Junior Games are on the cards for Canada this summer. We have Shanee Angol, a 16 year old student whose 49.66 metres in the javelin set a new Junior CARIFTA Games record in Martinique. She is extremely talented. However, she needs to undertake a lot more strength work in order to attain optimum performance. Shanee has qualified to enter the Junior Pan Am Games and she should be encouraged.
Any reason why we are not more proficient in the running events?
It is a crying need for us to acquire a synthetic track. This would enable much more quality work with our athletes. In the same measure we need a gymnasium not only to assist our track and field but our other sports.
A general blueprint for our athletes to move forward.
It would go a long way if our schools would provide full scale spectator support by entire school bodies attending our local meets— not a token contingent of students. This would maximize sponsorship interest. Also, our schools must encourage all our promising athletes to join clubs in order to elevate their abilities. Right down to our parents must show commitment by turning up to support the athletic meets.
#### Lastly, Mr. Emmanuel LoBlack, what's on the horizon for Dominica at next year's CARIFTA Games?
A few 16 year olds in Kelandie Bully of the I.T.S.S in the 400 metres, Cameron Carbon in the 1500 metres and 3,000 metres; Nicholos Shanelle in the long jump, both of the Goodwill Secondary School, Judah Corriette, 800 metres, Keeshon Gregoire, javelin, 17 and 18 year olds respectively of the Pierre Charles Secondary School, and not omitting Luan Gabriel now 19 years old, in the 200 metres, all these students bettered their personal best performances in Martinique. Hopefully Luan Gabriel will move to the USA or Jamaica on an athletic scholarship.