The Stadium East running track, in Kingston, was re-opened on February 13, by Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, following the completion of much needed repair work.
The track, which was closed late last year was completed well within its scheduled time under the supervision of German sports manufacturing firm, BSW Regupol. The Sports Development Foundation (SDF) funded the project at a cost of $43 million.
Board Chairman, SDF, Dr. Warren Blake, said the facility was resurfaced under Phase II of the project to rehabilitate running tracks at the Stadium complex.
Early last year, the SDF embarked on a multi-million dollar programme to improve the running surfaces at the National Stadium, the first phase of which saw the Mondo track inside the main stadium replaced with an IAAF level-one Retropol running track at a cost of $78 million.
“These amounts combined represent the largest project ever undertaken by the SDF at a single venue, totalling $121 million,” he pointed out.
Mr. Blake informed that to achieve such a milestone, the SDF drew on the expertise of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and the Public Service, the Customs Department and custom brokers, Swift Rate Limited.
He noted that projects of this nature form part of the SDF’s thrust for the provision of international standard infrastructure for the country’s athletes.
“This is in an effort to provide the tools that will enable our athletes to train safely and perform at the highest level. I implore our athletes and all the people using this track to take care of it, because it is a part of our legacy,” he said.
In her remarks, Minister Neita Headley said the re-opening of the Stadium East track was a significant achievement for all involved.
She noted that the re-opening of the track would not only facilitate training and provide a warm-up area for athletes participating in meets at the National Stadium, but would also provide the opportunity for additional development meets to be hosted at the Stadium.
“This fits neatly into my vision for Jamaica, to be a training base for sports men and women, sports professionals and coaches,” she said.
Mrs. Neita Headley argued that Jamaica has much to gain from capitalising on the benefits that can be derived from its successes in sports, particularly track and field.
She further noted that in the same way that good nutrition and training are important components to an athlete’s development, access to quality training and warm-up surfaces was equally important to their success.
The Minister reiterated the call for local athletes to make good use of the track “and to take care of the facilities.”
General Manager, Independence Park Ltd., Major Desmon Brown reminded athletes to use the proper gear when using the track. “We want to remind them to use the correct length of spikes, which is 6 mm. If they use the grass spikes, they will do nothing but damage the surface,” he warned.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter