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May 31, 2020

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Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) says his executive plans to overhaul the development systems for athletes across four disciplines in track and field, namely hurdles, sprint, medium and long jump, in a deliberate effort to bolster this country’s medal hunt internationally.

He was speaking to the T&T Guardian at Piarco International Airport, on Tuesday, where he was part of the welcoming party which applauded the T&T 2015 Carifta Games team on its return from the 44th Carifta Games in St Kitts and Nevis with six gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals for third place.

Serrette, a former national athlete himself, said he believed that the move to overhaul various aspects of the sports had become critical, as the developmental regime across these disciplines was too adhoc.

With no clear guidelines in place, Serrette said, coaches had free reign regarding what benchmarks were used to nurture the nation’s athletes.

In order for this country to benefit from its investment in athletes, he said, a national quality control system was needed to match the jumps and throws events, which was already paying dividends.

“The time has come where we need to put our foot down where the national hurdles programme, sprint and medium and long needs to be introduced. The coaches need to mature and understand what we are doing and not just keep their athletes to themselves. We have to work together as a unit to produce our athletes to represent us on the big stage, he said.

Serrette lamented, however, that local performances at this year’s championships did not surpass the medal haul from the previous year.

“It was below our expectations. We knew we had a fairly–I wouldn’t say weak team–(but) it was a challenge for us this year…A number of issues. We only had four development meets, Carifta being early; the loss of use of the (Hasely Crawford) Stadium, which is allowing us to make decisions and plan even better for next year. Carnival is very early next year, so our developmental meets next year would start in November, to give the athletes more opportunities for competition. This year only allowed about four developmental meets and I think that is insufficient to guide us where the selections are concerned,” he said.

Stand out moments from this country’s athletes during competition at the Silver Jubliee Athletic Stadium, over the Easter weeknd, did not escape Serrette’s attention, however.

“Yes. Our under-18 athletes. We have a very interesting group of U-18 athletes. Some of the analysis that we are working on is our national programme–the jumps and throws–and we have seen results,” he said.

The NAAA head recalled the Tyriq Horseford record breaking throw in the boys U-18 javelin event and the champion performance by Akanni Hislop in the boys U-18 200m. Both athletes were from Tobago.

Serrette disclosed that before leaving local shores Hislop stated his intent to win the event and break the record in the process.

The Carifta record was 20.84. Hislop’s time was 20.91.

“I think that’s commendable. He also has another year competition in U-18 competition. I think he is someone we need to invest in because I think that out future,” Serrette said.