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Some 14 primary school students, boys and girls from four school in District 2 (North Castries) took part in an athletics development clinic on Saturday, 26 September at the George Odlum Stadium.
The clinic was facilitated by Olympic hopeful, Makeba Alcide, the Saint Lucia and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States record holder for women’s 60m hurdles, 100m hurdles, Pentathlon and Heptathlon.
Along with physical education teachers from the various schools, the students – ranging in age from 10 to 12 – were instructed in the rudiments of hurdles and high jump.
The session represented a collaboration between Alcide, Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Ministry of Education and its Curriculum and Materials Development Unit (CAMDU), coaches from the Saint Lucia Athletics Association and the Saint Lucia Physical Education Teachers Association.
Alcide is preparing to begin training at Altis, formerly the World Athletics Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. She is planning to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she intends to contest the Hepathlon.
But the St Joseph’s Convent alumna says that Saturday’s activity was important for her. She opines that more athletes need to give back to the sport, and that more must be done to develop certain events.
“Today was an awesome day. Kicked off my high jump and hurdles clinic. Was able to discover and identify primary students with great talent and an interest in the sport of track and field. Thanks to District 2 for attending. The numbers were not where we wanted them to be but it was a great start.
“We have two great high jumpers, Levern Spencer and Jeannelle Scheper, and just working with these kids, you can see that some of them have a lot of ability and confidence. Once they get the right foundation, and once they stick to it, keep training and keep working hard, we will see greater success for Saint Lucian athletics.
“Thanks to Mr Hall and the PE Teachers Association, and the PE teachers themselves, who will be extremely helpful in keeping these kids involved, the Ministry of Sports, Dr Verneta Lesforis for her valuable insight and presence, WinnersTV and the students who were in attendance and who discovered their new talents. I enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Dr Lesforis, who is attached to CAMDU, thanked Alcide for facilitating the Saturday activity, which she also deemed to have been a success. Dr Lesforis also holds the Saint Lucia national record for the women’s 400m and is a former Sportswoman of the Year.
“I was happy to be part of this,” she said. “It’s nice to see people like you using your talents to help develop our young ones. The children had fun, but most importantly, many of them seem to have developed a genuine interest in the events presented. Based on what we saw, it is obvious our problem is not a lack of talent.”
Further clinics are being planned, with local coaches and featuring athletes like Spencer and Scheper.