Guyana is setting the stage to host the South American U-20 Championships, the largest track and field meet in the country’s history.
The June 3-4 championships will attract in excess of 300 medal chasing athletes from all 12 South American countries and, as a result, President of the Athletic Association of Guyana (AAG) Aubrey Hutson and Director of Sport, Christopher Jones are calling for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to ensure that the championships are a success for Guyana.
Hutson and Jones made the collective call yesterday at the National Resource Centre during the formal launch of the event which will be held at the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora.
Said Hutson, “Today is when we launch the South American Junior Championship with all 12 South American countries indicating their willingness to be here and we are very confident with the returns that we have seen with all of them having a presence in Guyana.”
He added “My message today is that we must make this happen in a big way. There is no turning back at this point and most of the countries have secured their tickets to be here so the success of this championship will depend on us putting up a good show.
“Guyana is going to be as ready for this as any other nation in South America based on you, the media, putting a positive spin for what we are trying to achieve and everyone who has a relationship with athletics. From the Guyana Olympic Association, the Government of Guyana, people in the sports fraternity both in Guyana and the diaspora coming out and giving us the necessary support that is needed for this championship which will be the first of its kind in this country,” said Hutson.
“We must do this for national pride because we must convince the rest of the world that we are ready to not only hold the South American Junior Championships but the CARIFTA Games and we may go on to Pan Am and CAC and those other championships that we need to bring to our shore,” said the AGG boss.
He noted that despite the cost to host an event being of such a magnitude, it augurs well for the athletes and the Sports Tourism industry in Guyana.
“Look at the positive impact that this is going to have on our athletes and the hotel and hospitality industry.We have gone through enough negativity in athletics and other sports. It’s time for us to look at the positive side and the positive impact to our country.”
Hutson then reiterated “Again we must make this happen in a big way for Guyana.”
According to Logistics Manager of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Carla Chandra, the GTA will be working with the local stakeholders to develop tour packages for the time that the visiting athletes and officials will be here.
Director of Sport, Christopher Jones said it was his pleasure to stand in full support of the AAG as it prepares for the hosting of the South American Junior Championships. “It is testimony to the fact that we are moving in the right direction in relation to sports in Guyana because several other disciplines will be hosting in 2017 international tournaments,” said Jones.
Jones then echoed about the “spin-off effect” of hosting the event.
“From the spinoff effect all will benefit, our athletes will benefit, the companies that come on board will benefit and the country in general stands to benefit.”
During the launch, it was also disclosed that Banks DIH Limited will be the main beverage sponsor. The local conglomerate will rehydrate the athletes and patrons with Powerade, Rainforest Water and Malta Supreme.
It was also revealed that on the championship days, E- Governance will also lend its support.
Said Senior ICT Engineer at the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) Michelle Layne, “We see ICT as a cross-cutting enabler in the delivery of a wide range of government services. Our support for the event will encompass the provision of high-speed internet for the media and the provision of mobile wifi hotspots around the track.”
Layne added, “We must make this happen for the country, you have our full support.” Said Jones, “By virtue of E-Governance being onboard, it provides that opportunity in which we will be able to take Guyana throughout the length and breadth of the world, exposing our country.”
The AAG was given the rights to host the South American U-20 championships after confirmation came at the CONSUDATLE Congress which was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil in March.
Guyana succeeded in hosting the event which will cost in the neighborhood of $US60, 000 after the initial host, Bolivia, pulled out of staging the U-20 event due to reasons beyond their control.
Half of the funding for the biennial event will be acquired from the IAAF.
Guyana has won eight medals (three gold, one silver, and 4 bronze) at the fixture which started in 1959. Brazil leads the table with 1591, followed by Argentina (746) and Chile (608). That total tally could perhaps be surpassed at the end of June 4. (Emmerson Campbell)