Historically when the Athletic Association of Guyana (AAG) stages its annual National Senior Championships, most if not all of the events are dominated by the senior and more seasoned athletes.
However, the past weekend at the National Track and Field Centre perhaps ushered in a changing of the guard and broke the tradition of the two-day fixture as it was highlighted by teen athletes who took the spoils in the blue riband sprint events, the middle distance races and in the field events.
Right before our eyes, we are witnessing the extinction of notable senior track and field athletes competing on the local scene in the AAG’s calendar fixture.
Compton Caesar and Kenisha Phillips both teenagers, continued their dominance on the local sprinting circuit by recording doubles in the marquee 100m and 200m events. Daniel Williams, who will represent Guyana at the World Youth Games in Nairobi, Kenya later this month, won the 400m event. Samuel Lynch, another junior athlete, took the 800m gold.
Claudrice McKoy who will don local colours at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas from July 18-23, won the female 1500m race. Chantoba Bright, who will be Williams’ teammate in Kenya, continued her dominance in the pit, disturbing the sand to win the triple and long jump events quite handily.
\Whether on the track or in the field, the common denominator was a junior on the top podium step.
Quizzed about the absence of the senior standout athletes, President of the AAG, Aubrey Hutson admitted that “I think we need to do a bit more to keep our seniors in the sport.”
He added “It’s a difficult process for the senior athletes to have full time jobs and dedicate their time and energies towards training.”
The fact is, the cost is simply not feasible for a senior athlete to dedicate his or her time and energy to training for a local championship. “We need to find a way of rewarding the seniors,” said Hutson who added “Most of the seniors would say it makes sense to quit but at the same time the onus is on them to show that they are still worthy.”
While the decline in the number of senior participants is worrying, Hutson said he is encouraged by the performances of the junior brigade.
“We are improving, the times are getting better and that is an encouraging sign since people would say it is better to invest in a junior who is at the same level or better than a senior athlete.”
Huston then concluded that corporate support will be needed in order to adequate reward athletes. “We definitely need more sponsors involved, without corporate support, we are beating a dead horse.”