… 350 athletes expectedAPPROXIMATELY 350 athletes from across South America and Panama are expected to descend on Guyana for the much anticipated South American Junior Championships, officially launched by the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) yesterday, at the National Resource Centre.AAG president Aubrey Hutson announced that all 13 countries have already confirmed their participation, and a number of them have already submitted their numerical entries.According to Hutson the outstanding countries have until Monday to confirm their final numbers.The June 3-4 competition will be the biggest athletics competition ever held in Guyana; setting a precedent for Guyana’s ability to host future events.The event will be held at Guyana’s only synthetic track facility – the National Track and Field Centre (NTAFC).Hutson reassured that Guyana is indeed ready to host an event of this magnitude; calling it a matter of national pride.“We know that there is always the question of whether we can do this, is Guyana ready for this? Guyana is going to be as ready as any other nation in South America,” Hutson declared.“My message today is to make this happen in a big way for Guyana, for our athletes. We must compete for national pride. We must convince the rest of the world that we are ready to hold, not only this South American Championships, but we may go on to host CARIFTA, Pan Am and CAC Games.”The transportation and hotel accommodations are already in place, Hutson related.However, according to the AAG president, most of the preparatory works still to be done relates to improvements needed at the NTAFC, where several deficiencies, which have prevailed over the years, will not be tolerated at this IAAF-branded competition.This will entail the ordering of security cages for the discus and hammer throw areas, the ordering of additional backup hurdles, as well as extra blocks, among other things.On the issue of promoting the event, Hutson said that the AAG will be looking to market the event in a big way.“We are working with Global Technology to set up an official website and social media pages for the event; while advertisements are expected to roll out soon,” he related.Director of Sport Christopher Jones was also at the event and pledged the government’s complete support of the event.Further, Lyndon Wilson, one of the coaches who are currently training a squad of 65 athletes locally, confidently informed preparations are on track.“The athletes are currently being encamped every weekend to train collectively. The final team is expected to have “over 30 athletes”, Wilson said.Those athletes identified will be in action on May 27 and 28 as part of their preparations leading up to the championships.The Guyana Tourism Authority has also signalled their support.Other sponsors include the National Data Management Authority, which will be supplying internet for the event, which will see several mobile hotspots set up at the track.Always eager to support sports, Banks DIH has also come on board in a major way, and will be the official beverage sponsor of the event, under their Rainforest Waters, Powerade and Malta brands.
A former laboratory chief, Grigory Rodchenkov, has made extensive claims, including that urine samples were switched to ensure athletes tested clean.The World Anti Doping Agency says it will consider re-testing if necessary.