Joseph Payne Classic 2020 ready to rumble

Over 700 athletes are expected to tear up the track and the field in 100 events at the National Stadium as the 2020 athletics season gets started with the Joseph Payne Memorial Classic on January 25. The 10th edition of the meet, which is aimed largely at the development of field athletes, will see participants, primarily from local clubs and secondary schools, going up against one another while some regional and international competitors will be in the mix as well.

With the Classic hosted each year by the CW Foundation, details surrounding the 2020 installment were revealed during a media conference on Friday evening at McEnearney Quality Inc., by Chairman Charles Walcott and he proudly said that there would be several overseas entries with athletes hailing from the Kaizen Panthers of Tobago and Excel Track Club from St. Vincent and the Grenadines with both teams boasting national champions and record-holders. He also went on to draw attention to the fact that there would be action on the field as two throwers would be making their way to compete in Barbados all the way from China. “This year we are pleased to announce that we will have a team coming out of China. It is a small team, a two-member team. Their coach has been a good friend for years and we have established an arrangement and friendship where he has determined that he is trying to assist us with developing our field athletes in Barbados,” he said.

Matt Wilkins, an Olympic champion in his own right and coach and consultant to many top-level throwers having worked with several Olympic, World and Commonwealth champions, has cultivated a strong relationship with and Walcott explained that many plans have been laid towards the development of field events in Barbados. “We would have talked about the establishment of a field event facility in Barbados. We have had a number of discussions around that and he was the person that designed the layout of that facility. We are still hoping that will take place in Barbados. Some discussion has taken place at ministerial level, at Sports Council level and we are hopeful that within the near future that facility will become a reality,” he said.

Going on to say that Wilkins was interested in travelling to Barbados in the winter months to train his athletes, Walcott also revealed that there would be a workshop held at the National Stadium on Tuesday, January 21, at 10:00 a.m. “We believe that this workshop will be a very exciting one for the athletes and coaches. He will share information, techniques and some of his life experiences with everyone and we believe that this will be a starting point for his journey in Barbados in terms of developing field events.”

Another added attraction to the Classic is the 5K run which has become wildly popular over the years after starting with just nine runners. Meet Director June Rudder said that although there were countless other 5K events in Barbados, this one was different and that lent to its appeal. “There are now a lot of 5Ks on the annual programme and the Joseph Payne Classic has its unique character in that it is the only one that starts and finishes on the track. What we do is to actually sandwich it between the track events. So we will have regular track events until about 5:00 and then we will launch into the 5K. We will run one or two events while they are on the road and by then the runners will be coming back. As soon as the runners are finished we will resume with the track events. It should be exciting – it is a precision operation because we have to fit it into that given time span, but it has worked very well and it gives the participants an opportunity to run in front of an audience which is good for them,” she said.

With cash prizes of $250, $150 and $100 for the top-three male and female runners as well as age-group prizes registration remains open for the 5K and can be conducted on the day between 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. However, Walcott took the opportunity to remind coaches that entries for the track and field events is set to close on January 19.

“After the deadline has passed, we are not taking anymore entries. It creates an issue on the day of the event where you have to be making corrections and so on and that can allow for delays. Last year was the first time that we were able to have the coaches sign off at the technical meeting to agree all the entries are correct and all the information is clear and we had a smooth event. This year we will do the same thing where they will sign off at the technical meeting on January 22, at the National Stadium at 7,” he said.

He went on to further state that the reason for the adherence to the deadline was to help build a level of professionalism in our athletes and coaches.
“I know last year there were a number of persons who were disappointed and I just want to make the point that we are not trying to deny athletes from participating. What we are trying to do is ensure that they are disciplined. If you are competing anywhere else in the world, the deadline for entry is far greater than the entry deadline we provide. If you are serious about being in the sport, I think it is a good opportunity for you to acknowledge these deadlines,” he said. (MP)

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