After days of rain, the sun came out in full force to usher in the opening of the Sir Vincent Beache National Stadium at Diamond.
Prime Minister Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves made this announcement whilst delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony for the athletic track. Dr. Gonsalves said the facility will bear the name of the “great Vincentian leader and servant of the people”.
According to Dr. Gonsalves, the late Sir Vincent “wanted this so much and I know his role in it” thus the facility was so named to recognise his contribution. With Sir Vincent’s name affixed to the facility, Prime Minister Gonsalves explained that this will spur his Labour Government to have the facility “built out fully”. He added that he will invite Lady Vida, Sir Vincent’s widow and other family members, in time, to put up the appropriate signage.
Incumbent Parliamentary Representative for South Windward, Hon. Frederick Stephenson said that athletes will be better off because of the facility and thanked the Government and all those involved in the project. He described the project as a tremendous piece of work noting that it will be the envy of the Caribbean when it is completed.
Former Teacher and Track Supervisor Dyke Cato stated that it was an emotional time for him to witness the facility’s opening. Cato said the team went the extra mile to complete the track. He stated that no longer will Vincentian athletes have to go Barbados or Grenada for time tryouts. The Track Supervisor disclosed that the next tryouts will be right here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture Hon. Cecil McKie commended Dyke Cato and his team for their dedication to the project. McKie said that Cato will go on to manage the facility. He said that athletes can now have their dreams fulfilled – on the track and on the football field.
Minister McKie highlighted the Holiday Inn and Express Suites construction and offered its 93 rooms as accommodation for this country to host future sporting events. The Minister of Sports thanked the Ministry of Finance and Invest SVG for investing in the facility, which cost around $6 million, up to this point. Also, he thanked the coaches, parents, and the Ministry of Education for supporting the youngsters.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves described the track as “a diamond in a Diamond” noting that the track has become the “heart and soul of the athletic community” in SVG. He thanked Minister McKie, Stephenson, and Prime Minister Gonsalves for their vision in bringing the project thus far.
The Minister of Finance acknowledged the delay in the start of the facility, which he attributed, in part, to the diversion of funds in times of natural disasters, among other factors. When completed, Minister Gonsalves said, the stadium will seat over 5000 people and will have additional facilities, including, concession stands, male and female wash and change rooms, coach’s station and a warm up track. He announced that the facility will soon be certified by World Athletics and that it has passed all the tests.
Middle distance runner Linda McDowall said she is grateful for the track and urged persons to desist from making negative comments about the project. McDowall encouraged athletes to give of their best and let no one deter them from succeeding. She expressed thanks to her Coach Michael ‘Mercy’ Ollivierre, the SVG Athletics Association, Prime Minister Gonsalves, and Minister McKie, for their continued support.
Several youths from athletic clubs across SVG put the track to the test in a mini-meet to mark its opening. The Sir Vincent Beache National Stadium is just a stone’s throw away from the construction site of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. The opening took place on Wednesday, 4th November, 2020 at the Diamond Estate.