blankPORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad: Over 600 athletes from private, public and government secondary schools across the country will compete in intense rivalry at this year’s National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships will take place on Wednesday, April 20 and Thursday April 21 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.  With just under two weeks before the meet the eight competing zones have already hosted held  zonal qualifiers to select athletes to participate in the biggest track and field meet in the country. The Championships will also see several athletes who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the this year’s Carifta Games in St. Georges, Grenada over Easter weekend. 

Speaking at the launch of the Championships on April 7, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Secondary Schools Track and Field Association (TTSSFA) Phillip Allard said his association is in discussion with Caribbean sports broadcasters Sports Max to bring delay coverage of the Championships. Allard met with officials of SportsMax in Trinidad and Jamaica in March. The Pleasantville Secondary principal said the pending Sports Max coverage is keeping with the Association’s mission to make the sport more visible. “Our vision is to popularise athletics and the only way we can do that properly to ensure that we develop (the sport) well (in our schools).” He shared that during his visit to Jamaica he witnessed the island’s High Schools Championships which is foundation of Jamaica’s success in track and field. 

Commenting on T&T’s below par performance at the recent Carifta Games Allard said Association must look at how to ensure the country’s athletes are competitive regionally. “The Carifta Games that have just been completed and I am wondering what is taking place in Trinidad and Tobago in relations to getting the type of athletes that we want. It seems that we are moving in a direction that we would not want to.” He said he has plans to speak with the Minister of Education on partnering with the JC Foster College for Physical Education and Sport in Jamaica to provide training for local sports teachers in an attempt to improve the performances of the country’s athletes. “I will be speaking with our Minister of Education to formulate ties and organising scholarships so we can have the type of P.E. (Physical Education) expertise so that students could develop properly the techniques for running and throwing.” Allard assured that this year’s championship will be run professionally and organised.

Defending zonal champions and perennial winners Tobago will again be strong to beat with Carifta champions Tyriq Horsford and Akanni Hislop in the line up.  At the Carifta Games Horsford retained the boys under 18 javelin title with a record throw of 73.00m. The Signal Hill Secondary student has been at the helm of Tobago’s victory in recent years winning the Victor Ludorium (Top Male Athlete of the Meet) prize in 2013. Tyriq is expected to be joined by school-mates and Carifta medallists Chelsea James (bronze-girls under 20 shot put) and Asha James (girls under 18 javelin) as well as Clarence Jacob. 

Hislop, of Bishop High, Tobago,  took the boys under 20 200m gold in Grenada after winning the boys under 18 crown in 2015. Another Carifta medallist Anya Akili (girls open heptathlon) will also represent Bishops. Akili was a triple gold medallist at the last year’s Secondary Schools Championships. Victor Ludorium at the 2013 edition Franklyn Stanislaus and Akanni’s brother Ako, both of whom competed at the Carifta Games will also wear the Bishops colours.  

The North East zone will be lead by Carifta silver medallist Tyrell Edwards (boys under 18 200m), last year’s joint Victrix Ludorium (Top Female Athlete of the Meet) Ayanna Glasgow and the 2013 winner Akidah Briggs,  all of Toco Secondary. Fellow Carifta medallist Che Lara (boys under 18 4x400m) of Arima North Secondary is listed to be part of the North East team. Port of Spain and Environs will rely on Carifta silver medallist Ianna Roach of Bishops Anstey (girls under 18 shot put) and 2016 double bronze medallist (girls under 20 100m hurdles and 4x100m) Jeminise Parris of St. Francois girls. Fellow Carifta medallists bronze medallists Jenea Spinks (Holy Name Convent-POS), Akilah Lewis (Bishops Anstey), Renee Stoddard (Providence Girls) and Jaden St. Louis (St. Anthony’s College) and Recardo Prescott (St. James Sec) are among the main athletes for POS. The Point Fortin East duo of Onal Mitchell and Akeera Esdelle will spearhead St. Patrick’s effort. Mitchell won double bronze (boys under 18 400m/4x400m) while Esdelle was a part of the bronze medal girls under 18 4x100m team. Victoria will have hope in Adel Colthrust of Debe Secondary . Colthrust won Carifta bronze in the boys under 18 100m.  Caroni will again depend on Patrice Richards, the joint Victrix Ludorium from 2015. 

Athletes will be vying for the top Zonal honours. Early this year the TTSSFA announced that the students will be competing only for the Top School trophy. However, the association general council voted to maintain the top Zonal prize.  The annual Secondary Schools Championships are held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education.

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