Angels fly in for Classic
The Bermuda Pacers had a goal a year ago to secure a major sponsor for their Schools Relay Classic, bring in a visiting team and to turn the weekend into a three-day track meet for this the tenth anniversary of the Classic.
They are almost there, with a sponsor, AIG, confirmed for tonight’s event and the first visiting team — Flying Angels Track and Field Academy — arriving yesterday.
The four members of the team will stay on to compete in Sunday’s track meet jointly hosted by the Pacers and Flyers Track Clubs.
“This is exciting for us, we’ve been fortunate enough to go up and compete in their [Flying Angels] International Classic three times, so we’re excited to have a team come in,” Cal Simons, the Pacers head coach, said. “This is definitely a good start.
“We have 25 teams representing the public and private schools, the numbers are pretty much consistent with what we normally get.”
The Flying Angels, a top club in Canada with 300 members, brought in a girls relay team and an eight year athlete, Vito Vesia, who will compete in the 400, 800 metres and long jump during Sunday’s meet.
Their relay team of Desiree Kennedy-Swan (15), Ranae Taylor (18), Genesis Ghide-Bryan (12) and Kafui Setsofiah (14) will compete in the high school division tonight.
“This is our first time in Bermuda but Desiree has grandparents (father is Perry Swan of St George’s) here so she has connections to Bermuda,” said coach Earl Letford during a light training session with the team at the National Sports Centre last evening.
“Ranae’s godparents live in Bermuda so it was always a hope of ours to visit Bermuda.
“Calvin has taken a team to Canada for the Flying Angels International Classic so we always wanted to return the favour. We met in Philadelphia at a meet there and they [Pacers] have been coming to Canada for a few years.
“We just brought five athletes this year but the expectation is to make this an annual trip to support the meet and help it grow. We’ve been to different places in the Caribbean to compete and this is our favourite so far.
“Our youngest girl Genesis has competed in Italy, Jamaica and the US, always against girls her own age, but once the competition starts they’ll be ready.
“We have kids in our club as young as six years old and at the last Olympics [in Brazil] we had six senior members competing at the Olympics.
“We are in the Toronto area and are in the process of launching a branch in Jamaica as well as in the US. I’m originally from Jamaica, went to Canada when I was seven years old.”
All the visiting girls will do the 100 and 200 metres on Sunday while Ghide-Bryan will also do the long jump.
“Vito is an amazing soccer player, one of the top young players in his age group in Canada,” Letford revealed.
It will be a busy weekend for events at the National Sports Centre, with the three-day Schroders Swim Meet also scheduled as well as the Bermuda International Football Festival tomorrow evening, which forced Bermuda National Athletics Association officials to switch the track meet to Sunday to accommodate.
“We’re hoping for a good night, we want Bermuda to come out and welcome the Canadian team,” Simons said. “We should have two heats in the primary schools boys and girls while the high schools will go straight into the finals.
“Some $4,200 is up for grabs for the schools, including $1,000 in each division.
“It is intended that the funds will go into the schools’ athletic programmes.”
Two new overall champions were crowned last year, with West Pembroke replacing Elliot Primary as the primary school champions while CedarBridge dethroned Berkeley Institute as the high school champions. TN Tatem retained their middle schools crown.
National Sports Centre officials have warned that parking may be an issue because of the busy weekend of events, with swimming also taking place this evening and tomorrow evening along with the relays and then the football tomorrow night.
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