By Lesroy W. Williams
(Basseterre, St. Kitts) Three Kittians have qualified for the summer Olympic games to be held in Beijing, China, from Aug. 8-24.
Meritzer Williams qualified in the 200m with an A standard time of 22.96; Tiandra Ponteen qualified in the 400m with a B standard time of 52.26; Tameka Williams qualified in the 200m with a B standard time of 23.19.
The National Senior Championships Olympic Qualifier was held at the Silver Jubilee Athletics Stadium in Bird Rock, Basseterre, on June 21-22. The National Senior Olympic Qualifier was organized by the St. Kitts National Olympic Committee (SKNOC) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Amateur Athletic Association (SKNAAA).
Tameka, however, will need to upgrade to an A standard which is 23.00 according to qualifying standards of the I.A.A.F. She will get a chance to do this at the Leeward Islands Junior Championships held in the British Virgin Islands from June 28-June 29 and another chance if needs be at the World Junior Championships in Poland from July 8-July 13.
Virgil Hodge made the Olympic qualifying time before participating at the Silver Jubilee Athletics Stadium. Nevertheless, her performance on the weekend of the National Olympic Qualifier was breathtaking with an A standard time of 22.87 in the 200m.
Kim Collins, Kittitian’s pride and joy when it comes to track and field, winner of gold at the 2003 World Championships in Paris and Commonwealth games in Manchester, was a no-show to the chagrin of many fans that came out expecting him to perform over the weekend. Mr. Collins already has the Olympic qualifying time under his belt.
Mr. Alphonso Bridgewater mentioned at a press conference on June 18 at the Silver Jubilee Athletic Stadium that Kim Collins was expected to run at home at the stadium with a pavilion named after him.
“We have not received any official word from Mr. Collins in terms of not appearing or why he couldn’t attend the championships,” Mr. Osdel “Scottie” Hanley, Public Relations Officer for S.K.N.A.A.A. stated.
Mr. Hanley said that the S.K.N.A.A.A. sent out a circular to all their overseas- based athletes inviting them to the Olympic Qualifier on June 21-22. He said that it was communicated clearly in the circular that it was mandatory for all athletes to attend the weekend qualifier for selection to any games overseas including the Olympics.
“All athletes were expected to attend. All the other overseas-based athletes were present except Mr. Collins,” Mr. Hanley noted.
Mr. Hanley said that when the S.K.N.A.A.A. and the S.K.N.O.C. meet shortly they will have an update as to why Mr. Collins did not attend.
Even though there were some hiccups with respect to events being cancelled, Mr. Hanley thought that the weekend went well. He apologized on behalf of the S.K.N.A.A.A. and promised that things will be rectified and better organized for the championships next year. The National Senior Championships Olympic Qualifier was the last meet at the Silver Jubilee Athletic Stadium for the athletic calendar year.
“We (S.K.N.A.A.A.) were very pleased with the performance of the athletes over the weekend. We had three athletes who were able to gain the qualifications for the Olympic Games for the first time ever,” Mr. Hanley said.
Mr. Hanley also mentioned that they were pleased with the turnout and that it was one of the larger turnouts for a senior championship. He said it was unfair to compare the CARIFTA Games with the National Championships Olympic Qualifier.
In terms of ticket sales, Mr. Hanley believes that they did well but emphasized that what was most important was not profit-making but quality performance from the athletes and spectator satisfaction.
“On behalf of the S.K.N.A.A.A., I would like to say a special thank you to all the fans that came out on the weekend to support the athletes,” Mr. Hanley said.
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