Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Stakeholders suggest changes for Champs 2021

Published:Monday | September 21, 2020 | 12:13 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Action from the Class Three Girls 80m hurdles event at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Action from the Class Three Girls 80m hurdles event at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
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Hydel High School head coach Corey Bennett says that having separate ISSA/GraceKennedy Athletics Championships (Champs), one for boys and the other for girls, could be an option to ensure that the event takes place next year, in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Champs was cancelled in March this year because of the pandemic. Since then, ISSA has cancelled all sports competitions for the first academic term because of the delay in the reopening of schools, which was caused by the recent spike in cases.

In a letter obtained by The Gleaner, Champs Committee Chairman Richard Thompson said that changes would have to be made to the competition format if it is to take place.

“The national COVID-19 protocols dictate that if Champs 2021 is to be a reality, then adjustments may have to be made to the general structure and scheduling of the meet. These changes could possibly have implications for the number of athletes, classes, events, and days of Champs 2021,” he said.

Bennett says that to safeguard the athletes, separating the championships for 2021 could be done to reduce the number of athletes at the event at any one time.

“[I think] they should split Boys and Girls Champs for next year,” he said. “Have the Girls Champs in one week and Boys Champs the next.”

Boys and Girls Champs were previously held separately before merging into one event in 1999.

Edwin Allen High School head coach Michael Dyke said that while such a proposal could be considered, the merger has grown the size and popularity of Girls Champs from when it was a separate event. Dyke said that another option could be extending the tournament schedule to have more rounds.

PROTOCOLS TO REDUCE CONTACT

“Maybe what could happen is that you probably carry it for a few more days,” he said. “You [can] spread the events more to reduce the number [of] athletes in the rounds [and] add a few more rounds just to allow a sort of protocol where you try to reduce the contact as much as possible.”

But Bennett says that all stakeholders should be involved in the planning process, using the Velocity Fest meets held recently as a template.

Velocity Fest organiser Bruce James said there are differences in the event formats, but that he would be willing to assist with the safe execution of Champs 2021.

“We are willing to share everything and anything that we did,” James said. “If they (ISSA) can get any value from it, we would be more than happy.”

In the letter, ISSA invited the coaches to give suggestions for hosting the competition next year. They were given a deadline of October 2. Subsequently, a virtual coaches meeting is expected to be hosted by ISSA.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com