Following the announcement that all systems are in place for the staging of this year’s Caricom 10K road race tomorrow, the local organising committee (LOC) for the event yesterday stated that all of the regions’ top distance runners have confirmed their participation.
At a press conference held yesterday at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport office in Georgetown, President of the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) Colin Boyce informed the gathering that it is mandated by Caricom that all member countries should send two athletes — a male and a female — to officially represent them.
He said the big names, like defending champion Pamenos Ballentyne of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Jones along with athletes from Barbados and St Lucia, just to name a few, have begun to arrive in the country.
However, Boyce stated that unlike the other Caricom countries, Guyana will have the privilege of fielding six athletes.
Cleveland Forde has been on a demolition run since capturing the annual South American 10K race, which was held here earlier in the year, signalling his intention of overthrowing Ballentyne who is known as the king of the Caricom 10K.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines native has claimed the race four consecutive times and clocked 31 minutes and 41 seconds last year in Antigua. But with the performance of the Guyanese known as the ‘Little Kenyan’ at the last outing, a fifth win is going to be a hard mission for Ballentyne.
2008 National Sports Commission (NSC) Sportswoman of the Year Alika Morgan will be defending her title which she has also held for the past four years.
The AAG boss said he expects both Forde and Morgan to do well in their respective divisions but was not unaware of the fact that with some of the best distance athletes coming from within the Caribbean, it would not be an easy task.
Initially it was announced that Morgan and Forde were the Guyanese representatives, but yesterday, Ashanti Scott, Cleveland Thomas, Javina Straker and Jonathon Fagundes were added to the list.Boyce mentioned that ideally, Kelvin Johnson and Lionel D’Andrade who are other top local distance athletes should have been drafted to represent Guyana, but they are currently campaigning in Trinidad and Tobago and it is not the AAG or the government’s job to pay for them to come home and run.
“Really, after we had gotten the go ahead to use six athletes, we thought of Kelvin and Lionel but they are in Trinidad at the moment and I don’t think it is our right to pay for them to come back home… those athletes run all over the Caribbean and they find their way,” Boyce reasoned. Only the athletes in the international category would be eligible for cash prizes of US$1,200, US$900 and $700. The winners and runners-up from the other categories; open, 16 – 20 years, tourist and visitors and masters, will receive trophies.
Meanwhile, Minister of Sport Dr Frank Anthony expressed his delight at having the race staged in Guyana for the first time and spoke of his expectations of the race tomorrow.
The race will start at 7 am in front of the Caricom Secretariat at Liliendaal and proceed east on the railway embankment road to Ogle and then turn north onto the East Coast highway and head west to Carifesta Avenue. Runners will then head south onto Camp Street and make their way into the Police Sports Club Ground at Eve Leary for the finish.The event is being held in recognition of the Caricom Heads of Government summit, where Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo would be taking over chairmanship of the Caribbean Community.