Vincy athletes prepare for Penn Relays

James Cordice.
Photo by Nelson A. King

James Cordice, the architect behind St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the illustrious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa says preparations are well underway for hosting athletes from the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) in next week’s relays carnival.

“Preparations are on track,” Cordice told Caribbean Life Monday night. “I’m very excited. This is the sixth year [hosting TSSS athletes] — sixth time around.”

Cordice said the 18-member contingent — which comprises a manager, chaperone and coaches — flies into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport early Sunday morning, and will then take a two-hour van ride to Philadelphia.

In previous years, the contingent flew directly to Philadelphia. But Cordice said the new route is more financially feasible.

As in prior years, the male and female track stars will compete in 4×100 and 4x400m events during the three-day carnival, which starts on Thursday, April 29.

This year’s male athletes are: Mickail Legair, Derold Samuel, Azare Samuel, Nigel Thomas, Neilo Thomas, Edwin Weston and Zenron Chance.

The female athletes are: Mickaila Slater, Cheslyn Simper, Oleisha Ryan, Zamesha Myle, Ariel Jackson, Kavesia George and Shanise John.

Godfrey “Fuzzy” Harry is the head coach; Chantel Legair, female coach; Larissa John, manager; and Farrah Bailey, chaperone.

Cordice said Vincentian national track star Brandon Valentine-Parris, who continues his winning ways in track meets in the United States, is expected to grace the tracks during the Penn Relays, at Franklin Field Stadium, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Valentine-Parris, who represented TSSS on two prior Penn Relays, is expected to compete for Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., where he’s currently on an athletic scholarship.

Bus and car loads of nationals from New York are also expected to trek to Philadelphia to render support to the Vincentian athletes.

Laverne McDowald-Thompson, president of the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the U.S., said COSAGO is organizing a bus-load of nationals to support the athletes on the final day of the meet, Sat., April 30.

McDowald-Thompson also told Caribbean Life that COSAGO has collaborated with the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP) in sponsoring the SVG Penn Relay Team for the fifth year.

“I am certain that our sponsorship aids tremendously since it helps to defray the cost of uniform (running suits), accommodation, transportation and food for the week the athletes spend in U.S.,” she said.

“It is very important to the organizations that they [athletes] are well cared for when they come to represent us here in the United States,” she added. “In addition to our sponsorship, we rally support for the athletes to witness their participations in the games.”

On track days, the athletes will be fed through the efforts of Team Jamaica Bickle, an organization that provides meals to Jamaican and Caribbean athletes at the games, of which Cordice is an executive member.

Cordice said the TSSS athletes will be feted at a reception, on the night of the final day, at the Vincentian-owned Calabash Restaurant and Catering House on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia.

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