THE AMBITION of the national governing body for athletics, the National Association of Athletics Administrators (NAAA), to develop a cadre of well-rounded, high performing junior track and field athletes, will become a reality thanks to a strategic partnership with the Elite Development and Performance Unit (EDPU) of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago, and the National Gas Company (NGC).

For a six-month period, 43 athletes (24 boys and 19 girls) will be engaged in the junior elite pilot project with a philosophy that takes a 360-degree approach to developing prospective podium athletes into an elite status, through the implementation of multidisciplinary procedures.

Ten of the 43 athletes will be engaged in the “Level I” category whereby they will be given special attention and primary focus over the specified period. The other participants, categorised in “Level II”, would also be included and exposed to the training sessions and workshops during the six months.

Speaking at the launch of the project, held in the VIP Room, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo yesterday, NAAA president Ephraim Serrette stated, “basically our vision is to bring about excellence in our sport of track and field, as we pilot this project towards further understanding the development it takes for our athletes, especially our juniors, to reach their full potential.” He continued, “we are taking a handful of these athletes and placing them into a controlled setting, where they would be receiving a certain amount of attention and resources as EDPU’s professionals conduct their analysis on the athletes’ improvement over the course of the period.” Candice Thomas, manager of the Support Services at the EDPU, presented the modules of the programme in detail to the athletes, coaches and media at the launch, as she gave an insight as to what the agenda entails.

Thomas detailed, “the project modules comprises the monitoring and evaluation of the athletes as well as scientific, therapeutic and educational support to improve overall athletic development. As a result, the EDPU will provide the following suite of services, namely Strength and Conditioning, Sport Psychology, Psychometric Tests, Sport and Exercise Science, and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, to these individual athletes.” The first phase is set to begin tomorrow where Baseline Screening Assessments (BSA) would be conducted on the athletes. The BSA includes a Physical Competency Screen (PCS), Psychometric Evaluation and Anthropocentric Profiling.

The EDPU’s responsibilities to the project includes the monitoring and evaluation for junior track and field athletes, along with providing them with scientific, therapeutic and educational support to create an optimal elite athlete development framework.

All assessments and workshops conducted by the EDPU will be undertaken at the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) facilities at the Hasely Crawford Stadium (Gym, Labs, Clinic) and at the Media Room of the National Cycling Centre in Tacarigua. SPORTT are currently making arrangements for the EDPU team to conduct sessions in the sister isle, so as to ensure the equal treatment for the Tobago- based athletes.

Here are some of the Junior Elite Athletes chosen....

Under-18 Age Group: Anya Akili (Panthers), Rae-ann Serville (Memphis), Jenea Spinks (Concorde), Tyriq Horsford (Zenith), Avindale Smith (Abilene), Adel Colthrust (Abilene). Under-20 Age Group: Jacob St. Clair (Abilene), Kashief King (Point Fortin Neon Jets), Akanni Hislop (Zenith), Tyrell Edwards (Toco Titans).