Track resurfacing, CARIFTA preparation to coincide at Leonora
By Jemima Holmes
Over the past year, several parts of the track at the National Track and Field Center (NTFC), Leonora, West Coast Demerara (WCD) have become an eyesore. With the rubber lifting, and being absent or swollen in some places, it has resulted in the current urgency for resurfacing the track.
Notably, the track at Leonora is the only one of its kind, given that the two additional tracks, at Linden and Berbice, are yet to be completed; and that track is used extensively, especially now with the CARIFTA Games, World Championships, and other athletics events set for 2023.
Given the state of the track, Director of Sport, (DoS) Steve Ninvalle, informed Guyana Times Sport on Wednesday that resurfacing of the Leonora Track is of utmost importance, and is set to be completed by April, costing in excess of $70M.
“Also, we have planned in 2023 is to do the resurfacing of the Leonora Track to the tune of maybe $78M. That we should have completed by April month end,” Ninvalle informed Guyana Times Sport.
Obviously, the elephant in the room would be the local athletes’ need to utilise the track in order to prepare for a packed 2023 calendar.
Explaining that he was in no position to foretell the AAG’s plans, Ninvalle emphasised, “You see, it’s important that we do that resurfacing. It’s just like with the National Sports Hall; we’ve had to shift around certain sport disciplines to the Gymnasium, to other places, because the Sports Hall, at some time, we had to stop and say let’s fix this’.”
“So, it means that some people will be in some discomfort for a limited period of time, so that we could be in comfort for a longer period of time. As it relates to the Leonora track, it’s the same thing,” the Director of Sport added.
The company that laid the track initially, BSW Regupol of Germany, are expected to return this month end or early February to initiate work. However, it will directly coincide with the Athletics Association of Guyana’s (AAG) preparation for the 2023 CARIFTA Games, set to take place over the Easter weekend in April.
As such, this publication reached out to AAG President Aubrey Hutson, who is not opposed to the track being resurfaced, but divulged that he is hoping for a long enough notice, so that the Association’s competition schedule would not be hindered.
Hutson reasoned, “I don’t see the resurfacing of the track or, in my humble opinion, the work that has to be done on the track, lasting for more than 2 weeks. I don’t see it, because, I remember when they laid the last surface, it did not last that long. So, I’m hoping that once the Ministry can let us know, or the National Sports Commission can let us know, exactly when they plan to start working, and by when it will be completed, we will have to fashion our programme to suit,” the AAG Boss continued.
“I’m only hoping it will not fall in the time we have competition.”
Hutson went on to disclose that he has no problem shifting training sessions around, if facilities are available. Hutson explained, “I think I heard somewhere along the line that the intention was to finish Linden, and the same contractor was going to come to repair Leonora. So, if Linden is completed and then focus is being put on Leonora, then I think we will just have to incur some transportation costs of shifting our events to Linden for that little window,” he said. “By and large, we should move our sport around the country.”
The Leonora Track was first laid in February 2014.