Story courtesy of

Anthony Foster, IAAF

(Basseterre, St. Kitts) – High praise was given to the organisers of the annual CARIFTA Games for their successful running of the event by IAAF President Lamine Diack, who attended this weekend’s edition in St. Kitts.

Many of the stars of these Games will go on to compete and medal at this summer’s 12th IAAF World Junior Championships, Bydgoszcz, Poland, 8 – 13 July 2008.

While praising the efforts of the organisers of this annual age group track & field festival which is celebrating its 37th edition, President Diack urged other regions to follow in the foot-steps of the Caribbean.

“I discovered CARIFTA Games in 2002 by going to the Bahamas myself,” he said. “It’s like my dream for athletics in school and in this case the Caribbean.”

“This is one of the goals by the IAAF to get every region to have a meet like the CARIFTA Games …. and having this kind of competition every year, it only serves as motivation for them (young athletes) to continue.”

“I think you (the CARIFTA Games) are a far way in front of the others, so I am very impressed every time I come to the CARIFTA Games”

President Diack spoke of the support from the heads of governments in the Caribbean, which he said made the annual event such a success.

It was in this background that the decision to form the IAAF School / Youth

Commission had been taken.

“I want the sport back as No.1 in the schools,” confirmed Diack. “In my young days, it was the first (No.1) in the schools,” he added while pointing that soccer, basketball and volleyball were also played, athletics was on top.

“I want it to come back to be the first in the schools, which is why we decided to have the School / Youth Commission.

“It’s an opportunity to give youngsters at seven-years-old a start in athletics, from ages seven to 12, and then give them another programme from 12 to 15 years old….This (youth programme) is the feature,” he said.

Diack said so far the Commission, which is made up of track & field experts from a cross the world, has done a wonderful work.

Apart from the success of the CARIFTA Games, Diack was happy to see two new track & field stadiums, in Turks and Caicos, which hosted the 2007 CARIFTA Games and now in St. Kitts for this year’s event, and was impressed with the fact that “I was told here is going to be used only of athletics, which is good. So now that St. Kitts and Nevis is organising these events, next year I would like for them to organise a one day meet. Your wonderful athletes would then be given the opportunity to compete in your own area, not only to move to Europe to compete,”

“IAAF will help strongly on that to give them the opportunity to have a

circuit and to have their athletes compete (more often) here in the Caribbean,” confirmed Diack.