Click here to print page

Byron Bachelor Athletics Complex opened at Kingston College

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Four and a half months after its completion, the Byron Bachelor Athletics Complex was officially opened at Kingston College last Friday, much to the delight of the school community which now has access to a six-lane, 350m synthetic track.

The track is located at the Melbourne Park campus on Elletson Road, which is home to the lower school.

Kingston College (KC) is now only the second high school in Jamaica to boast a synthetic track following on the heels of main rivals Calabar High, who received their track in 2016. While the track at Red Hills Road was an initiative of the government, the track at KC was privately funded, mostly by the Rujon Foundation, which is run by the children of Byron Bachelor, an old boy of KC and other KC old boys, as well as other private donors. The original cost of the track was estimated at US$400,000, but ran to just over US$550,000 at the time of completion.

Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who was among the speakers at the ceremony, hailed the contribution of the Rujon Foundation not only to KC, but to Jamaica at large.

“Since its inception the Rujon Foundation has been contributing not only to projects such as this one, but also to needy individuals across the island,” she said.

Simpson-Miller urged care of the facility, especially by the primary users of the track, the KC students.

“I have no doubt that this new surface will aid KC's continued excellence in sport, in particular, track and field. Students, I encourage you to take good care of this track so that it may serve you for a very, very long time.”

Man-of-the-moment Bachelor thanked his wife Ingrid for her stellar support throughout his adult life and his daughter Christina, who was the architect behind the construction of the track and his son Andrew, who helped significantly in the fundraising.

“It is my prediction that Kingston College will soon be producing a plethora of athletes accepting overseas and local track scholarships. We should also be producing more athletes and Olympians as this sport will be the central path for many more student athletes.”

In explaining the massive layout of funds for the construction of a track at the school, the former KC quarter-miler said that he wanted to afford boys the best option in the pursuit of their athletic dreams.

“If someone's career is cut short with an injury, they are suddenly faced with that problem of having too many 'what ifs'. It therefore becomes a very worthwhile project for the student who is able to stay healthy to pursue his dreams because of having this high quality track. This simply justifies in my mind why some of us have to place our efforts and resources on sports, while others place their resources on the traditional or more modern forms of the classroom education.”

KC's track and field head coach Neil Harrison was a happy man at the official opening.

“I am very ecstatic, words cannot express our sincere gratitude to all the stakeholders involved. We have been awaiting this kind of a facility for a very long time, and now that it is here we are overjoyed.”

Harrison sees the cost to his programme being reduced significantly as a result of the new track.

“We are grateful for it because it cuts down on cost in terms of transportation to take us to a different venue, it also provides a safe environment to train on, a wonderful turf for our preparation, and it also reduces the risk of injuries. The boys are ecstatic and they are very anxious and anticipating their first training session on the track.”

Donovan Thames, who won gold in the decathlon and silver in the pole vault at the 2017 edition of “Champs”, echoed the sentiments of his coach about the time that will be saved.

“The reason why I am so happy for this track is because when we are going to stadium to train it wastes a lot of time, and now that we have this track we can train at the right time and end at the right time,” said Thames.

“The track at KC has been a dream of mine for a very long time. I remember stories from my dad telling me about how he used to run on a dirt track and then decades later I come to KC and I see the same exact track. My thought was, if Jamaica produces the best athletes in the world with these training facilities, imagine what they can do if they have the proper training equipment.”

Christina, who also spoke, challenged the boys to bring the Mortimer Geddes Trophy back to KC next year.

“KC now has the tools to dominate in track and field. to all the track athletes, you guys have no excuses, I need a win at 'Champs' next year. I am very serious, and possibly an invite from one of you guys to the next Olympics.”

Proper seating and the expansion of the pavilion were among the other areas of development expected in short order at the school.