‘Grace-ious’ Champs coaches revel in recognition
ISSA GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships’ winning coaches Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen and Omar Hawes of Calabar High received their $150,000 winning cheques and gift vouchers from GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby on Friday.
GraceKennedy, with a total sponsorship investment of $36.5m this year, for the very first time in the history of the event, decided to reward the unsung heroes of Champs, the coaches, with cash prizes.
Wehby, in congratulating both coaches, said “You have done a fantastic job and we want to applaud you.”
Dyke, who has led Edwin Allen to their second victory in three years, collected his cheque and a $25,000 Hi-Lo Supermarket gift voucher.
“I really want to say thank you to GraceKennedy and associate companies who have really taken the coaches into consideration, as a lot of times coaches are always left at the back. Once the athletes perform well they are very good. Once anything goes wrong, the coaches are not good,” he noted.
“I can recall, in 2013, when Edwin Allen was defeated. We had a young lady in Marleena Eubanks, she got injured and I had to withdraw her from a race for health reasons and I was slaughtered for it although I knew I made the right decision. We lost the championship,” said Dyke.
He continued: “It goes to show that coaching is not just for winning, but we take our athletes' interest at heart, especially their health. I must say thanks to ISSA who have done a great job so far, over the years, and I know it will continue for many more years.”
“GraceKennedy have come on board and have transformed especially the sponsorship of the sports. We are extremely grateful and I know in the years to come we will have many more super champs,” he added.
Meanwhile, with Calabar's head coach Michael Clarke unavailable, his assistant and one of the most promising young coaches, Omar Hawes, who is in charge of the sprints, was on hand to collect the prizes.
“Mr (Michael) Clarke couldn't be here today, but I am here to share the sentiments (for a) job well done from ISSA and GraceKennedy,” said Hawes.
“Some people don't understand how deep this coaching thing goes. It goes way beyond just the technical aspect of track and field,” he noted, after collecting the cheque and gift voucher.
“It's a great honour to know that we are being acknowledged in what we give to the sport. From Calabar's heart we are saying, very much, thank you,” he continued.
Wehby then pulled a surprise on Champs chairperson Colleen Montaque and ISSA president Dr Walton Small, presenting them with plaques for their input into arguably the greatest high school event in the world.
“In the spirit of GraceKennedy we have two presentations for their outstanding performances and we are very proud to be associated with them,” said Wehby.