The Athletic Association of Guyana (AAG), the body tasked with promoting the discipline of Track and Field, will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in exactly one week at the National Racquet Centre, Woolford Avenue.
At this year’s AGM, the clubs will select the office bearers to serve on the association for the next four years and a familiar face, Aubrey Hutson, will be seeking re-election for the top post.
The incumbent president spoke to Stabroek Sport’s Emmerson Campbell yesterday about his chances of being re-elected, some of his achievements while at the helm, some plans if victorious and also the recent criticism he has received from journalists from the Kaieteur News.
The interview is as follows:
EC: How confident are you with regards to being re-elected?
AH: Since nominations had opened for elections of new office bearers for the new term for the AAG, most of the clubs have openly indicated to me and to other folks that they are happy with the work that I would have done in comparison to what they have seen from previous presidents and they are willing to nominate me once again for the position for president. I am not overconfident but simply awaiting the elections, I have indicated to them that I am willing to provide that service once again that I would have done over the last four years to athletics.
15I am pretty confident but I am comfortable more or less whether I serve as president or as the person who operate the Fully Automatic Timing System or assisting athletics in any way that I possibly could and I would accept those roles. So I not uncomfortable if I am not re-elected as president but I just want to have an opportunity to serve the sport and I am willing to serve it in any capacity.
EC: What are some of your (AAG) major accomplishments since you have taken office?
AH: The AAG’s major accomplishments from 2013 to today, some are directly from our actions, some of them by pure faith. First of all it was a big accomplishment for us to have a synthetic track in Guyana. That boosted our athletes’ ability to run on that kind of surface. Prior to that we had to be going to Trinidad.
The Fully Automatic Timing System was something I personally pushed for. I really had to twist the GOA’s arm to get the Fully Automatic Timing System bought and have it available for the AAG so we could move away from the hand timing system to a system that is accepted by the IAAF.
But our performances internationally, we have really and truly grown. In 2016, we had sent the largest contingent of qualifiers to the Olympics, they all weren’t there through universality spots. We demolished Suriname in track and field at the IGG but holistically, athletics has grown over the last four years, we have sent large contingents to CARIFTA and we have been able to send athletes out on the world stage without them having to solicit sponsorship to get there.
That is one thing I vowed to stamp out as president. For an athlete to succeed in their sport, they must be able to focus on competing and should not have to think about how they are going to get to compete at a championship.
There are many things we can say we are proud of but if the critics check the records, they will see that we have accomplished a whole lot and this is what the clubs are saying, `Hutson was an athlete’s president and hence we need to support him so the sport can continue to grow.’
EC: If victorious, what are some of your major plans for the next tenure?
AH: Our major plan in the future has to be a total collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Guyana Teacher’s Union and the private sector.
We need to have total collaboration to make our athletes ready for the Olympics. To me its too disjointed, there is too much segregation in the process especially at the school level with track and field.
It is my intention to continue to work and chip away at the hurdles we have to cross in ensuring that all the stakeholders are involved in the process. We need to also shift the time we run the National Schools Championship, it’s very serious when you run Nationals in November and you have to prepare those same athletes who shone in November to peak again in March/April for CARIFTA. We also need to take a look at what happens in our tertiary system when it comes to track and field. Our athletes leaving high school have very limited options, that has to stop. We are working for a tertiary championship and we want to work hard on that for the next four years.
EC: What is your projection for the sport in 2017?
AH: Following the coaches retreat that we had in December, we put a few more items on our calendar and we are working assiduously towards the CARIFTA Games in April, the World Championships in August and the South American Championships in June. Those are the three major championships that we want to prepare our athletes for.
There is also the South American Juniors and we need to look at those championships. We are planning our programme specifically for our athletes to peak at these championships. The AAG will be putting together a budget that we can present to stakeholders so we can get the necessary funding so we can get the athletes up and running for the 2017 season.
EC: What are some of your thoughts on the criticisms you have received from journalists from the Kaieteur News?
AH: Being President of the AAG, I have tried my utmost to make decisions that will benefit our sport and some of the criticisms when you examine them are worthless. I do look at the merit and I try to understand and change, if there is merit in it, I would understand the criticisms but most of them are really and truly out of whack and they are way off.
These criticisms, some of them are written by people who I wonder if they really know about the sport and for that I sometimes think it’s personal. A journalist once sent me a quote that says `if in your travel to your destination, you have to stop and throw stones at every dog that barks at you then it will take you a really long time to get there.’
I have to thank God for my faith and I know not everyone is going to like you and so I’m ignoring the dogs that are barking at me, I have one goal in this sport which is to develop the athletes and I will focus straight ahead on getting that done.
The AGM is scheduled to get underway at 10:30hrs.