Hubert Lawrence | Time for a new track at Kirkvine
At this time last year, we were all congratulating Calabar High School on the inauguration of the first synthetic track to be laid at a school in the region. On the day when the first McKenley/Wint Classic put competition on the new complex, athletes put spikes on the re-laid surface at the GC Foster College for Physical Education as they ran, jumped and threw at the Central Hurdles and Relays. It was a historic day.
Now, a year later, with Kingston College far advanced with the laying of a synthetic track at its Melbourne campus, it's time to think ahead. The Corporate Area is now well served with synthetic tracks with such facilities at the National Stadium, Stadium East, the University of the West Indies and Calabar. Add Kingston College and the logic becomes clear. The next new track should be outside of Kingston.
The best bet is probably the Kirkvine Sports Club, just outside Mandeville. Located in the middle of a track and field hotbed, the Kirkvine field can probably hold a full eight lane 400 metre track. That could be the centre piece of a sports complex with amenities like a gym, a football field and stands adjoining the existing buildings.
Mandeville is an easy location to reach. That makes Kirkvine ideal in so many ways. Manchester High School, DeCarteret College, Knox College and Community College, and Holmwood Technical, institutions whose graduates matriculate to the national senior team, are close by and would benefit from using the facility for specialised practise without having to make the journey to Spanish Town or Kingston.
Clarendon, St Elizabeth, St Ann and Trelawny are all just around the corner.
As proposed a year ago, such a facility would allow meets like the Carifta Trials to move across the country. It doesn't take much to envisage the Trials in Montego Bay at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex and at Kirkvine as well as in Kingston. That would share the burden of travel costs more evenly between schools in the Corporate Area and those situated elsewhere.
The MVP and the University of Technology go each year to the Western Relays, set in 2017 for February 11. Their presence boosts the popularity of the sport outside of Jamaica and inspires young ones who might normally see top stars on TV.
It is awe inspiring to see little ones meet stars like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and Asafa Powell in person on the warm-up field at Catherine Hall. Those little faces light up with the realisation that their heroes are real people and really nice people too. The flip side is that these exchanges tell the stars that they run for more than just themselves.
Among top Corporate Area high schools, Kingston College is the only one that goes to the Western Relays on a regular basis. Travel budget restrictions and the presence of the well-run Camperdown Classic make a long trip to the Western Relays unwarranted for most other schools in Kingston and St Catherine.
The movement of meets like the Carifta Trials from Kingston to Kirkvine to Catherine Hall and back would help to share the burden evenly.
Calabar doesn't do meets that are contested on grass tracks. A synthetic track at Kirkvine might just tempt Calabar out of town for the long running Kirkvine development meet in January. That would be a bonus for the fans.
It was brilliant to see the opening of the new track at Calabar last year and there is much anticipation for the facility currently under construction at Kingston College. Logic suggests that Kirkvine should be next. Hopefully, a synthetic track for that mid-island location isn't too far off.
HUBERT LAWRENCE has made notes at track side since 1980.