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  Track And Field

On track!... National Stadium surface on schedule for completion

 
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer

The much-talked about athletics track at the National Stadium in Kingston has now been laid and is almost ready for competition after the final piece of synthetic surface was put in place yesterday.

The track, which has been hit by a series of delays, is now ready for active usage, according to officials close to the project. Only the marking of lanes is left to be completed as the project now looks set to meet its deadlines.

"It feels good to know that after several weeks of setbacks and hard work on the part of those involved, the track is now ready to be used," said a smiling Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, sports minister, during a tour of the venue yesterday.

"I am also happy that apart from having a new track, we now have a class one track that can host major world athletics events, which is an upgrade from the class two track, which we had before," she added.

Taste of action

The track, which is scheduled to get its first taste of action on March 12 at the 2011 Gibson relays, is of similar make to the blue-coloured Regupol track that was laid in Berlin for the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, and at the University of the West Indies/Usain Bolt track, which was installed last year.

Some of the new features of the track include an upgraded pole vault runway and shot put rings.

These, according to Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited - the state-run agency that manages the National Stadium complex - makes the track one of the best in the region.

Future hopes

Brown, who also serves as general manager for the Sports Development Foundation, added that he was also looking forward to witnessing good performances on the new surface.

"It's one of the best tracks around, and fans in the weeks and months could be treated to some fast times," said Brown, who also expressed delight at the track's completion.

"I must give thanks to the Regupol team of workers, our local team of workers, the ministries of Finance and Sports, the Sports Development Foundation, among others, who work around the clock so as to ensure that we meet our deadlines. Hats off to them," he added.

The track, which was laid over three phases, had several setbacks up to this point. Delays in the transportation of the material needed to effect the refurbishing exercise from the Germany-based Regupol, due to bad weather conditions that were affecting Europe last December, forced the postponement of the Gibson Relays from its original February 26 date.

Rains last week also forced a further setback for the contractors, who lost four days of work due to the downpour.

Phase one of the project, which was completed in December, consisted of the removal of the old track, while phase two covered the laying of 44 metres of asphalt on the surface.

After being fully lined, the track will then be surveyed and tested to ensure that it meets the IAAF classifications, a process that should see the entire project being completed before its February 28, 2011, target date.

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