Grenada Won on April 8th 2017

I attended the Grenada Invitational on Saturday the 8th of April at Queen’s Park with my two daughters and a group of friends. We arrived at 1.00 p.m. and left at 10.00 p.m, fully satisfied with the entire program.

On our arrival, access to the facility was easy, and we were greeted by a group of properly attired ushers, and volunteers who were polite and helpful to everyone. We got to our seats, drew in our breaths, and looked down collectively at the spanking new stadium that lay before us with a sense of pride and appreciation bordering on awe.

The atmosphere was electric. Drums, horns, and living colour a la Caribbean. Other countries may boast new and fully equipped venues like ours, but how many are nestled in the Darbeau foothills sitting snuggly next to the Caribbean sea?

Everything went like clockwork. Bathroom facilities and food purchase were readily available. The officials on the field and other supporting staff ran off the events  without delay, as they handled the state of the art equipment with ease and confidence.

The packed house and sold out crowd of happy Grenadians cheered on the local participants and visiting competitors alike, and showed their appreciation for our Caribbean athletic legends Veronica Campbell Brown and Asapha Powell when they appeared. Kirani’s old rival La Shawn Meritt was shown the same love that caused him to smile and laugh, perhaps for the first time, when he like many others before him succumbed to the warmth and welcoming embrace of his Grenadian hosts. He seemed pleased.

It was also good to see the young local athletes afforded an opportunity to perform alongside the visiting professionals.

Then the ceremony to rename the stadium after our first Olympic gold medal winner and ambassador, Kirani James. What a good move, the re-naming. One would have to search far and wide to find a more deserving recipient. Kirani James is not only a special Grenadian athlete but a humble and gracious young man, an incredibly suited role model, if ever there was one, for those who would follow to emulate.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and the Grenada government, the local organising committee – Michael Bascombe, Chris Brown, Dexter Mitchell, the Grenada Athletic Association, the Grenada Olympic Committee, the field officials, the Police Force, Ushers, hard working volunteers, and the supporting Grenadian public must all be commended for their individual inputs, that when combined,  made the inaugural Grenada Invitational such an incontrovertible success.

The International athletic season is only now beginning for 2017, and Grenada is well placed to become a venue continuing in 2018, for a repeat of this year’s success.

Everyone in the business of athletics knows now that not only do we have an IAAF recognised facility in Grenada, but just as important, people with the expertise to run it efficiently.

The rewards for Grenada in hotel bookings, airline seats, tours, food sales, destination marketing (like ESPN beaming pictures of our country and live coverage to 89 million people) and dependable post winter business, could be measured in the future perhaps second only to the SGUs impact on our country’s economy, if we cement our place going forward as an annual venue for top grade athletics competitions.

Reports have been coming in already from the foreign athletes that competed here, their coaches and the international governing body of athletics, of their pleasure, appreciation and respect for what they witnessed here on April 8th.

Again, I want to commend everyone who contributed towards making the Grenada Invitational such an unparalleled success. Because Grenada won on April 8th.

Roger Byer

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