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National Stadium in great 'shape' for Champs

Published:Wednesday | March 30, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica College's Rohan Walker (centre) powering his school's Class Two sprint relay team to victory at the Gibson Relays, on the newly laid track at the National Stadium, on which the athletes will compete at Champs, beginning today and running through to Saturday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer

STARTING TODAY the sporting hub of Jamaica, the National Stadium, will play host to one of the most anticipated events on the sporting calendar, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships.

According to Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL) - the state-run agency that has been charged with the day to day operations of the venue - the National Stadium is in much better condition than it has been in years.

"We are more prepared now than we have been over the last three or four years," Brown disclosed.

"We have just spent a lot of money laying the track, we have done some painting, we have done some work on the bathrooms; tile it and some other stuff. I think we are in better shape than we have been for the past couple of years," he added.

At last year's 100th staging of Champs athletes and spectators alike were deprived of the precious commodity, water, but Brown revealed that this time things have been put in place to deal with any such quandary.

"We have put in some temporary tanks, but we have not been having any water lock-offs and hopefully we won't have any," Brown stated.

"We had a problem with the lights during Gibson (Relays), but we have done some work on it and it is much, much improved," he went on to point out.

Brown said the only real area of concern is that of crowd management.

However, he is scheduled for a meeting today with organisers ISSA to discuss how the issue is going to be resolved.

"The fire inspection people did their regular visit today (yesterday). Before every event we ask them to come in to verify that everything is up to date," Brown announced. "Basically, what their concern is right now is crowd management, so we are going to meet with ISSA tomorrow to make sure that everything is in place to manage the crowd properly.

"Things like people not standing in the walkway and in the aisle, that is their (fire inspectors) concern right now. But apart from that everything is OK," he concluded.