Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, said work is expected to be completed before the upcoming Gibson McCook Relays.
“We are hoping that we will be ready in time for the track season. We should be ready, maybe a week or so, ahead of the Gibson McCook Relays, and I know that the athletes will be happy when they come. I am looking forward to opening the Stadium East track just before the Gibson Relays,” the Minister told JIS News.
She said the area will be properly landscaped and some sections repainted to refresh the environment.
The Minister, who visited the facility yesterday (January 7), accompanied by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe and other senior officials, said she was extremely happy that work has started.
She thanked officials of the Ministry of Finance and other government entities for assisting in the process.
Reflecting on the history of the track, Minister Grange said it has nurtured and produced the best athletes in the world.
“This is where Usain Bolt used to train and so many other athletes,” she said, recalling how she had made a commitment to Usain Bolt and his coach, Glen Mills “to do something about the track”, following their appeals for it to be repaired.
“So, we are putting things back on track so it can be available for all the athletes, to the elites and to the young ones, and they will be able to train here injury-free. At least the track will not be an impediment to their training” she added.
In the meantime, there are plans for the installation of additional running tracks in Kingston and central Jamaica.
Minister Grange said discussions regarding the installation of additional tracks have been “very fruitful”.
“Where we are now is that we are looking at a couple of other tracks being done, one at a high school, maybe in partnership with a private-sector entity, and another track, which will be sited to facilitate athletes in central Jamaica,” she said.
The Minister pointed out that the installation of the synthetic tracks will be two main objectives of the Ministry for the next fiscal year.
“We are still going to pursue our infrastructure development programme at various other sporting and entertainment facilities… but I hope we will be able to install two additional tracks in locations to be announced in the next fiscal year,” she added.
Ms. Grange said she has received reports with the possibility of developing four to six running tracks across Jamaica. She noted that the reports were done following visits to the locations by officials of the Sports Development Foundation and representatives from the BSW GmbH, the company contracted to repair the Stadium East running track.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that the running track at Catherine Hall in St James will be refurbished.
“The estimates have been presented and BSW has visited the site. They have worked out all the details, and the funding for Catherine Hall has been, more or less, identified,” she added.
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