World Athletics Day 2016
The best laid plans...!
World Athletics Day is annually celebrated on a weekend in May world-wide. One intention is to promote Athletics as a school sport and make it a pre-eminent activity. Since its introduction by IAAF it has seen a number of changes. The current format enables countries to stage one or more meetings to give young athletes another opportunity for competition. The 2016 version offered two age-groups: the older one (for "Clubs") involved male and female athletes aged 16 or 17 (i.e. born in 1999 or 2000) and was for individuals in a wide range of Athletics events. The full programme involved track from 100m. to 3000m., sprint and low hurdles, all throws and jumps, race walking, and cross-country. Countries were asked to stage what they could and submit official forms showing the winners and their performances, plus a background report on the day.
The younger age-group (for "Schools") was offered a team competition, each team involving 6 children aged under-16 (i.e. born in 2001, 2002, or 2003). They could choose from two or three of the following event-groups:- Sprints, Sprint Hurdles, M-D or Race Walk, Throws, or Jumps and had to be involved in a Relay. As in Multi-Events, their performances were equated to points and added together to produce a team result.
Kiribati AA expressed interest, as requested, by February 1st. and in April were sent two large parcels of promotional items to distribute to participants. They planned to hold WAD on Saturday, May 14th. at the Reuben K. Uatioa National Stadium in Bairiki on the capital island, Tarawa. Unfortunately the weather intervened and, as has happened many times this year, torrential rain flooded the track. (See image from February 2016 showing the effects of a downpour and lazy truck driver !))
In consequence personal arrangements had to be changed, resulting in some changes of officials and consequently an incomplete submission of results.
On the day.
The Meeting was postponed until May 21st. This dawned dry and warm with little wind. Altogether 7 Senior High Schools/Colleges and 3 Junior Secondary Schools brought athletes, plus several Primaries sent athletes as 'Guests'. The KAA President, Peter Birati, opened proceedings with an entertaining address, promoting Athletics as a healthy part of life and encouraging the athletes to perform respectfully and at their best.
Following the earlier floods, some work had been done on the track and other facilities so that competition could proceed safely. However, due to the openness of the site and the habit of vehicle drivers to take short cuts round the track and across the field, all vehicular access points were shut off with competition hurdles. As always, an adequate number of school staff offered their services as officials and were welcomed.
The proximity of the track to the Kiribati NOC HQ enabled a number of KNOC members to be in attendance. The Executive of Kiribati AA was understandably well-represented.
The 'Green' connection with Athletics was emphasised by having a massive 'litter-pick' at the end of the prize distribution so that the track and stand were left clean.
Comment on performances.
Although the coral sand (which forms most of the track) drains quite quickly, the surface remains soft and loose. For this reason, plus the fact that few of the less experienced athletes possessed spikes, good performances were rare. Mobera Tonana (SLHS), who has raced in USA, overcame the conditions and achieved a 'Clubs' boys' 100/200 sprint double in 11.5/24.3. Other notable victories in the older age-group were obtained by Karitaake Tewaaki with 14.0 in the girls' 100, and by Erimeta Kourabi with 1.33m. in the HJ and 8.14m. in the Shot. Both these ladies are in the KAA team which will travel to Suva in July for the Melanesian Championships. Travelling with them will be Lataisi Mwea who won the boys' HJ. Another good effort came from Mataele Seete in the boys' Shot with 11.84m.; he is one of several 'rising stars'.
IAAF Bonus ?
If IAAF are satisfied that, in the problematical circumstances, KAA did well to stage the events they did, there will be a 'bonus' of US$ 1000 held in credit for them in Monaco. Traditionally this has been used partly to pay the annual IAAF Membership Fee of US$200, buy Rule Books, videos and text books, etc.