KINGSTON – Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says installation of the new running track at the National Stadium in Kingston, forms part of efforts by her Ministry to improve Jamaica's sport facilities, particularly for track and field.
The Regupol track, supplied by the German sports manufacturing firm, BSW Regupol, was installed at a cost of over $85 million, with funding from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).
The track, with its trademark blue colour, is similar to the one at the Berlin Stadium in Germany, which hosted the 12th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in 2009. Jamaica’s World and Olympic sprint double record holder, Usain Bolt, established world record times of 9.58 seconds and 19.19 seconds in the 100 metres and 200 metres, respectively, on that track.
Miss Grange told Friday’s March 11 dedication and official opening that the National Stadium’s track is even faster than Berlin’s.
“We are among a small number of those (countries) who are fortunate to have a track of this quality. And, according to the manufacturers, our track is even faster than the one in Berlin, because they have improved the technology since the Berlin track was installed,” she said.
Miss Grange also disclosed that plans are afoot to paint the entire stadium facility. Work has already been undertaken on a section of the facility, in time for Saturday’s March 12 staging of the Gibson Relays.
She said there are also plans to improve other facilities, including the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in St. Catherine.
“We want to see good running surfaces across the island and so, we are targeting other facilities,” she assured.
Noting the various challenges encountered in the track installation. Miss Grange thanked the local team of residents from communities close to the National Stadium, who worked “10-hour days…seven days per week” to ensure it met the deadline for the Gibson Relays, noting that they have acquired skills which will prove invaluable in the maintenance of the track.
She said BSW Regupol has advised that the surface can last for “a very long time”, because of its quality, and that raw material has been provided to facilitate repairs locally by trained personnel, in the event of damage.
Chairman of Independence Park Limited (IPL), which manages the National Stadium complex, Mike Fennell, commended the input by stakeholders. He disclosed that IPL will also be moving to repair facilities at Stadium East, towards the end of the 2011 athletic season.
BY: DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter