THE eight-year-old Mondo all-weather running track at the National Stadium has been completely dug up and removed in preparation for rehabilitation work.
When the Observer visited the Independence Park Limited (IPL) facility yesterday, tractor-trailers and a number of trucks were in the process of removing the torn up pieces of the non-slip material which was laid in 2002 ahead of Jamaica’s hosting of the 9th IAAF World Junior Championships.
IPL general manager Major Desmon Brown told the Observer the existing surface had been removed ahead of an engineer’s assessment later this week.
The engineer, from the Germany company BSW, will check the levels to determine the base quantities required to refurbish the track.
The surface of the stadium had been steadily deteriorating, especially in the area of the 100-metres start, over the past few years, but came under added pressure this year after meets usually held at the Stadium East field were moved to the 25,000-seater complex because the smaller facility was closed for repairs due to similar damage.
“They (German engineers) are coming to see the quickest way we can get this thing fixed,” Brown said.
Technicians from the same company, which also laid the blue all-weather running surface at the University of the West Indies (UWI) earlier this year, were forced to do a quick-fix job on the stadium on the second day of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ & Girls’ Athletic Championships because of rapid deterioration caused by overuse within the past year.
The 100-metre start had to be repaired overnight after athletes started slipping in the blocks.
The visit by the Germans comes more than a year after it was revealed the Singaporean government had agreed to give its Jamaican counterpart the US$500,000 needed to resurface the Stadium.
In exchange, several of Jamaica’s top athletes, including Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Dexter Lee, went to Singapore to help market that country’s hosting of the inaugural Youth Olympics held last August.
“We were able to get them to agree to assist in funding the track that we need to re-lay at the Stadium East field. They have indicated that the funds have been identified, but it requires the delegation to go to Singapore, expense paid by Singapore, to consummate the arrangement,” Minister of Sport Olivia Babsy Grange told the Observer at the time.
The repairs, Brown said, were to have started at the end of the season following June’s National Senior Championships.
The state of the National Stadium has raised concerns about next year’s track schedule, especially for the high school track and field championships, the Gibson Relays and the Jamaica International Invitational meet (JII), which are high-profile events held at the facility.
It takes at least six weeks for a new surface to be laid and dried before it can be used, while time for shipment of material must also be factored in, which could have the facility out of commission for up to 12 weeks.