The President’s/Jefford Classic is gearing up to be one of Guyana’s grandest stages for showcasing local track and field talent as the event was officially launched yesterday by the organizers at Digicel’s head office in Barrack Street, Kingston.
President of the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) Colin Boyce and former national athlete, now journalist, Edison Jefford came up with the concept of the meet three years ago.
The aim is to bring a track and field meet to Linden at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground, paying clubs an overall sum of money for first, second and third places which will in turn showcase and help develop track and field in Guyana.
This year, the first prize for the winning club will stand at $500,000 while the clubs that finish second and third will receive $300,000 and $100,000 respectively.
This year’s edition of the games will be held at the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground on May 20.
At the press conference held to launch the much anticipated meet which is gradually turning into Guyana’s track and field showpiece besides the Schools Nationals Championships, Boyce informed media operatives of what the meet will have to offer.
There will be 26 individual events which will include four international events in the men’s and women’s 800 and 1500 metres that will feature Guyana’s own Marian Burnett, in addition to two masters events along with six relay events.
While the clubs will receive the monetary prizes, athletes in the international events will also receive monetary prizes as well.
Boyce at the press conference also hinted at a side attraction event that will feature former national sprinters competing in one event while revealing that there will also have an air show being done at the event sometime during the meet.
With the history of the uneven surface of the Mackenzie ground and the possibility of rainfall, Boyce considered alternative methods if it happens to rain on the day, especially since Grenada, Barbados and Suriname are expected to confirm their arrival dates during the week for the international segment.
“Well while Marian (Burnett) will be here for two weeks as she is excepted to arrive on the 14th of May, I do not think that the other international athletes will be staying for a week if we are to postpone the meet to next weekend if there is continuous rain.
“However, while we do not foresee rainfall on the day, we do know that the ground is of the sort that if there is limited rainfall an hour or two will suffice for the ground to blow out along with that we will have a sponge crew to help dry the ground from any water holes the ground might have,” Boyce stated.
Meanwhile, in light of the growth of the event in the last two years, Stabroek Sport asked Boyce about the organizers’ plans to develop the ground as the event gets more well known around the Caribbean.
“Well as a part of a ground makeover from Ansa McAls’ branded beer in Stag, the Mackenzie ground will receive an immediate makeover after the meet. They wanted to wait after this meet to makeover the ground with better facilities,” Boyce disclosed at the press conference.
Digicel’s Public Relations Manager, Shonnet Moore expressed Digicel’s gratitude at being a part of the event since its birth as she along with Digicel believe that the meet will help develop track and field in Guyana.
Jefford then took the opportunity to thank Digicel for their support along with their other sponsors in Ansa McAl, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), E. Networks, Courts Furniture Store, City Mall, and Wartsilla.
Moreover the meet is expected to attract the best of Guyana’s talent while adding flare to the competition with overseas athletes and Marian Burnett going up against local talent in the middle distance events.