BVI Athletics Association receives $100k grant from IAAF for recovery efforts following 2017 hurricane damage

By BVI Athletics Association

Steve Augustine, President BVIAA with Lord Sebastian Coe, IAAF President January 15 2018. Photo: BVIAA

Despite the impacts of Hurricane Irma and Maria, the British Virgin Islands Athletics Association continues to forge forward, aiming towards a more successful future in the sport of track and field for the athletes and the territory. One of its latest achievements after submitting an application for funding for the rebuilding of facilities at the A.O. Shirley Grounds was the receipt of US$100,000 grant from the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) solidarity funding programme.

Discussions were held on January 15th, 2018 at a North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) meeting, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico to determine the degree of damage to the region and the extent of help needed to aid with the recovery efforts.  At the meeting attended by IAAF President Sebastian Coe, NACAC President Victor Lopez, and BVIAA President Steve Augustine and some of the affected Caribbean federations,  the IAAF and NACAC promised to assist affected federations as much as possible.

“I hope these funds will go some way to rebuilding the sport in the countries most affected by the hurricanes,” said Lord Coe. “We know this is not enough but hope it will at least get the member federations affected back up and running. We will continue to seek further funds and work with the region to ensure athletes’ training is as uninterrupted as possible.”

Victor Lopez said: “As President of the Area one of my key concerns was ensuring our athletes could continue training. I received calls and was in contact with members from across the athletics family and was touched by the support received from the IAAF and from colleagues from all corners of the world who have offered to help, house and host affected athletes training for this year’s events.”

BVIAA President Steve Augustine stated that “ the much needed  funds will go a long way in helping to get our facilities back in order.  With the provision of this funding alongside the continued voluntary works of our track family I am certain that our facility will regain and surpass the functionality it once had.”

“The BVIAA is very appreciative of the tremendous outreach and support of the IAAF and NACAC towards the recovery efforts. The BVIAA is also appreciative of the efforts of the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) in the rebuilding processes. On the heel of the anniversary of Hurricane Irma and that of the significant loss of our Chief Coach Dag Samuel, we are pleased to be able to report on the grant we have received and the hope of seeing the A.O Shirley Grounds and its surroundings restored.”

The BVIAA also invites those that are interested in aiding the rebuilding efforts to reach out to BVIAA Executive members as follows:-
• Steve Augustine +284 496-7529
• Stephanie Russ-Penn +284 496-7155
• Willis Todman +284 496-6666
• Cleave Farrington +284 346-8375
or email and to make a pledge for funding or support in kind.

Sports back on track after Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Source: BVI Platinum

Sports back on track after hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: Sherine Williams/BVI Platinum News

Despite the obvious devastation at the A.O. Shirley Recreational Grounds, the facility is once again buzzing with activity, as BVI student athletes hit the track in preparation for the track and field season, which starts in January.

Amid the damaged fixtures which lay waste all around the blue track, athletes of different ages, from various schools and local track clubs, train at different times each day.

They all have different goals and track meets to attend in the upcoming season. But all agree that Hurricane Irma and her trail of destruction were not enough to stop them from representing the BVI next year.

“We never stopped. We were back in training probably as early as a week after Irma. We are competing internationally with countries like Jamaica, the US and places in Europe, and those athletes don’t stop so we can’t stop,” said track coach Willis Todman from Sprint Tech.

He is currently preparing three female athletes from the Elmore Stoutt High School, who were engaged in a training session while he spoke to BVI Platinum News.

He explained that even student athletes at the elementary level are in training in preparation for various competitions next year.

“Track and field for us is a business. Most of these kids in the BVI will be looking to go to colleges soon, so they need to be prepared so they can be picked up by recruiters who attend these events,” Todman related.

He revealed that next year, high school students are set to compete at the annual CARIFTA games, OECS Games, World Junior Championships and some meets in the United States.

Once recruited to compete for overseas colleges (especially in the United States), BVI student athletes are paid up to $70,000 a year, to cover living expenses, tuition and books. This avenue is a lucrative one for juniors who get the opportunity to attend college free of cost, while doing track and field – something they enjoy.

Many are hoping to follow in the footsteps of 20 year-old BVI native Nelda Huggins, who was recently recruited by the University of Texas and is now ranked number 1 female junior athlete in the US for the women’s 100m event.

Kyron McMaster is also another BVI athlete who offers much hope to aspiring track stars in the Territory.

McMaster was coached locally by the late Xavier ‘Dagg’ Samuels and signed to colleges in the US before becoming the fastest 400m hurdler this year.

Todman said the BVI continues to show excellence in track, adding that a recruiter from a United States college travelled to the BVI last week, to express an interest in recruiting 16 year-old sprinter Beyoncé Defreitas, who is now under his tutelage.

“Last year she was the silver medalist at the the 200m at the Junior Commonwealth Games and that coach came down to show his face and express an interest. But it comes down to where Beyoncé will feel comfortable at the end of the day,” Todman explained.

Defreitas agrees with her coach and told BVI Platinum News that she is waiting to see the other colleges that will express an interest in her before she picks an overseas university to compete for.

She is confident that she will be ready for next season, but admits that Irma did affect her focus for a while.

Photo Credit: Sherine Williams/BVI Platinum News
“It did slow me down for the first month, a little bit, but not much. Right now we trying to perfect form and I am pretty sure I’m gonna get it down pat before the season starts,” Defreitas said with a smile.

Another athlete, 14 year-old Akrissa Eristee, said despite the impact of Hurricane Irma, she is confident that BVI athletes can still compete with top athletes in the Caribbean and the world next year.

“I am confident that we can bring it, just as hard. I feel confident that I am gonna reach my goals,” Akrissa said.

She added that the resilience of the BVI people in the aftermath of Irma will inspire her to do her best next season.

She encouraged other student track athletes to stay focused and committed to the sport, despite various challenges they may face.

“Just stay focused and know that you really have to want it,” Akrissa said.