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GSD urges Govt to ‘act swiftly’ to address need for athletics facilities

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The GSD said it “fully understands and empathises” with the President of the Gibraltar Amateur Athletics Association in respect of the “lack of adequate” facilities his association has been suffering from for over two years.

GAAA President, Frank Carreras, is correct in saying “all we want is respect”, the GSD said in a statement reacting to an article published by this newspaper earlier this week.

“The Minister for Sport announced over four years ago, with much fanfare, that construction of new sporting facilities was to be built at Lathbury Barracks serving not only the Island Games to take place in 2019 but to serve as a ‘Legacy of Sports Programmes in General’,” the GSD said in a statement.

“It is now well over two years since the Island Games took place in Gibraltar and our local Athletics Association are still waiting for their facilities.”

Gibraltar track athletes obtained some outstanding results during the 2019 Island Games and this could have been the start of a new positive era for local athletics, the GSD said, but the party said “that momentum is being lost”.

For his part, GSD’s Shadow Minister for Sport, Edwin Reyes, has been periodically questioning Government in Parliament about the facilities at Lathbury Barracks since the Island Games were held.

On October 30, 2020, the Minister for Sport, Steven Linares, told Parliament that he was optimistic the facilities would be completed before the end of the year, if not by January, 2021.

“We are now well into the 2021/2022 Winter Sports Season and it is hugely unfair on Athletics in Gibraltar that yet again for another year they have no athletics track to use for serious training and competition purposes,” Mr Reyes said.

“Any sports lover fully understands why GAAA feels their sport is in a precarious position.”

“It further saddens me to learn of conflicts that have arisen between Gibraltar FA and Gibraltar AAA over the use of the Victoria Stadium facilities,” Mr Reyes added.

“Gibraltar has traditionally enjoyed excellent relationships between sporting associations and I, therefore, sincerely hope that solutions can be found as soon possible so that we may quickly return to a situation where we have been an example to others around the world.”

The GSD said it hopes that Government will act swiftly in ensuring that all sporting facilities are completed and available for use at Lathbury without any further delays.

“It is unacceptable that delays in implementing track activities with competitive and development programmes places GAAA at risk of losing essential funding already obtained from World Athletics to aid its development programme,” Mr Reyes said.

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