‘Medals and Books’ – SUR Track & Field Club seeking excellence on and off the track

The Super Upcoming Runners (SUR) Track & Field Club is quite possibly the smallest athletics outfit in Guyana, however they are big of heart and even bigger on the development of their athletes on and off the field.

Head Coach and Co-founder of SUR, Niall Stanton, sat down with The 592 Dugout and spoke of the club’s journey thus far and what the future holds for the club’s athletes and coaches. 

That journey began in 2015 when Stanton along with fellow coach Carla Rodney took the initiative to leave Mercury Fast Laners due to the fact that they were not being given the opportunity to spread their wings.

“I felt as though I had to move on as I wanted to grow as a coach, just as in any organization sometimes you need to step out to achieve that growth” he explained.

“When we first moved, we worked with Tirana Mitchell who is a former Carifta bronze medallist along with Kevin Abbensetts who is a top sprinter in Guyana, he had also won many medals at the National Schools Championships so we started brightly”.

However it was not all a bed of roses according to Stanton; “At the beginning when we got started, a lot of people weren’t very welcoming to us, I must single out the Police Sports Club, Coach Wilson and Coach Scott were very helpful, they allowed us to use the Police ground in our early days before we made our move to the National Park where we are presently”.

L-R: Coaches Cornell Rose, Carla Rodney and Niall Stanton with athlete Cordell Charles (center) who won AAG’s Junior Athlete of the Year in 2018.

 “Since our formation in 2015 when we started with five or six athletes, I can say that I am pleased with our progress, we have grown immensely from then to now. We have had success that we can be proud of”. 

The outspoken coach revealed; “We have fought our way to where we are now, the main aim of our club is to give service to our country and communities, to ensure that our youths are meaningfully occupied, to keep them out of crime and off the streets”. 

At SUR, it is not all about sports though as Stanton explained; “We also ensure that our athletes gain a sound schooling, we assist as much as possible for them to excel at CXC and at CAPE. We have children who have done well at CXC and CAPE, we have athletes who are at overseas Universities, as well as at the University of Guyana”. 

He further pointed out; “Myself along with Coach (Cornell) Rose are teachers and as educators we focus a lot on showing these children that you can balance academics and sports. Our whole goal is the development of these young people on and off the track”. 

“I think we have proven ourselves, I am now a member of the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) Council, and this reflects our hard work as a club. It shows our vision of promoting a healthy lifestyle and is proving that sports and education can be balanced; we have had athletes making the last couple of Carifta Games teams. We had Tyrell Peters out of Berbice who won a Silver Medal at the South American U-20 Championships a few years ago and we had even more athletes on the national team for that Meet”.

Coach Stanton taking his athletes through some drills.

Quizzed about the personnel at the club, Stanton divulged that there are now five coaches to 20 athletes while there is now a Berbice branch in addition to the main organization in Georgetown.

“We as coaches work well and we function properly as a team, this is evidenced by the fact that we are making progress with our athletes and we are getting them in the right direction on the track and in the classroom as well”.

“There is myself, Andre Williams, Whitney Bramble, Carla Rodney and Cornell Rose. Six athletes work with Andre and Whitney in Berbice. We utilize the available technology to us, to communicate on a daily basis, we co-exist as a club and if they have any questions the two Berbice coaches would come to us for guidance. Whenever there are major competitions we would come together whether it is in Georgetown or Berbice”.

Stanton is looking forward to the future which he feels will be rewarding for the Super Upcoming Runners, “We are looking forward to a successful 2021 and 2022, we want to continue having athletes on the Carifta Games teams and even as far as at the Olympic Games”.

However, in facing reality, Stanton mused; “Most of our athletes move on from the club at a certain age, they go on to the Police Force or the Army (GDF) clubs because they can earn money as athletes. We are a small club and we can’t afford to pay them due to the sports structure that Guyana has. If they want a career after school in track and field we usually advise them to go to either one of those clubs”.

Despite that fact, Stanton and his team are not discouraged; “We are hoping that most of them keep on studying and move on to the University of Guyana, we encourage them to keep coming to train whenever they can, so that we can keep working our programme along with them to achieve success on and off the field”.

Published by

Michelangelo Jacobus

Sports Editor and Founder of 'The 592 Dugout'.

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