Sprinters Shaniqua Bascombe and Tyrel Edwards will feature at the National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships which will have an international feel. This according to the president of the T&T Secondary Schools Track and Field Association (TTSSTFA) Joseph Brewster at the launch of the event yesterday at Olympic House on Abercromby Street in Port-of-Spain.
Action in the TTSSTFA two-day meet starts today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain from 10 am with a walk past of all participating schools and continues tomorrow, beginning at the same time.
"We are trying to get as close to Carifta, close to international standard as possible so that when our students go out and face competition in the Carifta Games or in other competitions, they would have already tasted some sort of authentic competition here," said Brewster on the revamped format of the meet to help propel young local athletes into their respective careers.
"We have a couple of changes and improvements this year to the Championships we understand that the sprints in Trinidad are very high profile and they are very well populated so this year we are providing extra space for the 100, 200 and 400 across all age groups. To qualify for the final of the sprints we have three semifinals, the first two persons in any race will go directly into the final and the two fastest losers across the races, they will go to the final.
"In the field events, each student/athlete will be given their normal three throws, then from ninth place go back will be eliminated and the top eight will get in that extra throw."
He hopes by doing this, it will increase the depth of student talent by increasing the number of participants in the marquee events like the 100m, 200m, the long jump and javelin and give them exposure to scouts.
On show will be Bascombe of St James Secondary School, Natasha Fox of Point Fortin West Secondary and Malika Coutain of Vessigny Secondary. The trio was joint Victrix Ludorum in the Championships last year. Defending champion school Toco Secondary, which Edwards attends, will be back, hoping to retain its title.
Brewster thanked the Ministry of Education and the National Association of Athletics Administration (NAAA) for their support as well as perennial sponsors Blue Waters, SM Jaleel and Sunshine Snacks and also praised new sponsor Guardian Life of the Caribbean,
"Word coming out from the NAAAs is that times and distances will be looked at very closely for Carifta qualification," said Brewster.
Flow Sports will present a delayed broadcast of the Championships, which will see athletes compete in the Under-13, U-15, U-17 and 17 and over age-groups.
At the launch were Shelly Slater, Ministry of Education Curriculum Officer - Physical Education and Sport, Janelle Edwards second vice president TTSSTFA, Arnold Rampersad, TTSSTFA public relations officer and treasurer Dr Phillip Allard.
Entry is free to students in uniform and for the public, admission is $20.