By Ras WadadaSEVERAL young Guyanese females who are currently on athletic scholarships across the United States of America (USA) are extremely disappointed at the cancellation of this year’s Track & Field season due to the global COV-19 pandemic, but remain optimistic for the future.The announcement by the organisers to call off the season came on the eve of the NCAA division 1 Indoor Championships which were set for New Mexico on March 13 and 14, while the Outdoor Championships were scheduled for June 10 to 13 in Austin, Texas.The two main attractions and much anticipated events, annually, have left a bitter taste in the mouths of the thousands of athletes who were expecting to use these meets as prime paths to the quadrennial global showpiece, the Olympics.Among the athletes affected are the ‘crème de la crème’ of Guyanese females who spoke to Chronicle Sport directly via telephone. Final year Clemson University’s Health Science student, Andre Foster who was ranked number one in the world indoors 800M earlier in the year, shared her feelings of disappointment.“This year’s cancellation really hit home for me since I was well focused on qualifying for the Olympics, but I know God has other plans. The cancellation of the Indoors was a bitter pill to swallow because this was my first time making it to Nationals for Clemson University and it was also my first step towards my big goal, Tokyo 2020.Claudrice McKoyThe news came on the eve of the Championship and it happened to be my birthday so you can imagine how much discouraging a moment that was. Thanks to my coach and team mates I was able to look at the brighter picture and be reminded by the words of my coach that ‘it wasn’t by luck that you have made it and you can definitely do it again’.“I left New Mexico very disappointed, but had higher hopes for the outdoors, and then when the announcement of the cancellation of all spring meets was made, I literally broke down in tears. I, however, found hope in the belief I can still make it to the Olympics so I kept training and fixed my focus but when that was cancelled too I realised and understood that it was out of my control. COVID-19 has changed a lot of things and norms for me, but it definitely hasn’t changed my mindset. It’s hard training from home but I am making the best of it”, the 23 year-old former Bladen Hall Multilateral student related.At Texas Tech University, 20 year-old Caludrice McKoy, who is majoring in Human Sciences and was expected to get her first taste of NCAA Division One Track and Field Championships opined that while she was upset, she can relate to the circumstances and necessary actions taken.“I must admit I was very disappointed with the cancellation, but with that being said, I think it was the correct decision to cancel the championship since health and safety comes first. I think it was done in the best interest of the student-athletes and to protect all stakeholders involved”. The former Central High/Chase Academy Foundation student who won CARIFTA Gold in the 3,000M and 1,500M as well as Bronze in both events on different occasions is not too bothered about the confinement indoors due to the Coronavirus pandemic.“I am coping well, both, physically and mentally, with COVID-19. Personally, I am not the outgoing kind of person so being confined to my home, which is not too far from campus, even though we are not in mandatory lockdown, is not a problem for me. I just hope that the Coronavirus which is causing the COVID-19 gets under control sooner rather than later so that we can all return to a state of normalcy. Most mornings I get on Zoom, with a video interaction App, and linkup with my compatriots and we workout together. I also, occasionally, go for 45 minute-long runs”.The other Running Brave-raised athlete who had high expectations for her debut NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Championship is 22 year-old triple-jumper Natricia Hooper who is in her second year of a full scholarship at the renowned University of Florida, but she had to call off her start again with the Gators after injury kept her out for the first year.“My emotions were all over the place for the first two weeks, as I was planning to launch my season on March 27th. The cancellation of the track season is dispiriting and I woke up each day hoping that is was all a dream, then I came to my senses and knew nothing would change. I then started to look at the positive side-effects of this pandemic, because this too shall pass. I am staying inside and taking advantage of this free time by doing things to keep my spirit uplifted and I am still working on my goals, doing small workouts on my own like jogging, drills and plyos so as to remain in shape”, the former New Campbellville Secondary student stated to Chronicle Sport. Hooper, who is pursuing a Masters in Sports Management, indicated that next year she hopes to conduct a Jump clinic called Jumpomatic in Guyana. She concluded, ‘Currently I am focusing on finishing my University studies and then starting my professional career’.Natricia HooperFormer Christ Church Secondary student Avon Samuels who is in her first year at St. John’s University is also distraught at the current effects of the global pandemic, ”I am affected physically and mentally since a lot of hard work was put in everyday of the week; since I understand what it demands to compete at the NCAA level of competition. I saw constant improvement and I was being motivated. I was growing in confidence then all my hopes were taken away with this COVID19. I have lost the moments I wasn’t fortunate enough to experience and it plays with me mentally. I have made lots of sacrifices to get where I am presently…no one knows what I’ve been through. It’s very hard on me, but now I understand that my health is more important. COVID19 shows me that nothing is guaranteed, so I have to live and bury this feeling forever. What’s for me will be for me”, the 20 year-old 200M and 400M specialist, who is majoring in Business Administration, disappointingly asserted. University of Texas El Paso sophomore Long and triple jumper, Chantoba Bright who attended the Mckenzie High School while conveying her displeasure remains optimistic.“I am one who is very disappointed that the track season was called off because I really have been training hard and had a great indoor season so I was confident of producing an awesome outdoor season. Add to that the fact that I was training with the mindset of qualifying for the Olympics, so I was ready to go out there and leave it all at the pit, but I guess God knows best and therefore I am trusting the process and using this as an opportunity for me to work harder, heal and get closer to achieving my goals on and off the track. I am remaining positive and looking at the bigger picture and the brighter side of everything that is happening.I must admit that this lockdown period is really doing me good since I have been using the time to really assess myself, reflect on my journey so far and truly work on my career and education. I am still training at home and doing classes online. It is not difficult to stay focused because I am a self-motivated and usually indoors chilling by myself, so this situation is not strange to me”, the Environmental Science major informed.One athlete who managed to return home the day before the closure of the airports, here in Guyana, is 19 year-old Joanna Archer who was able to complete her two-year studies, online, at Munroe College in NY and is now heading to Texas Tech where she will commence her scholarship, majoring in Criminology and with a minor in Communication studies in the fall of 2020.The former West Demerara Secondary student expressed her set back and her thanks due to the current pandemic,”COVID-19 has really interrupted my plans to run faster during the outdoor season as I had a fairly great indoor season running better than last season, so I know I was only going to get better outdoor. I should also say that I am thankful in a way for this current break as during the Indoor season an old knee injury acted up but my mental strength was enough to get me through the season. As a believer in “what is meant to be will be” I take comfort in knowing God has plans beyond my imagination. I trust God and to me I feel like it’s my healing season and in 2021 I’ll come back stronger and faster. At the moment because of the lockdown I am basically improvising indoors at home. It’s no secret that this virus stole a lot from me, but it wouldn’t take my faith and confidence in my talent”, the 800M Specialist declared.The chief nurturer of the aforementioned athletes, except Bright and Archer, is Coach Julian Edmond who disclosed to Chronicle Sport the reason for the success of the Guyanese athletic club established in 2006, “At Running Brave Track and Field Club, we, inclusive of president Trevor Williams and Co-coach Sham Johnny, work hard to let the athletes believe in themselves through commitment and discipline and having patience…it’s hard work.One of the primary goals of every athlete we produce is to become champion of their respective category in the country. We also have seen an increase in selections on Junior CARIFTA Games from our club and this has to do with our solid preparation/foundation work which starts in November. These athletes on scholarships in the USA all have the potential to go on to bigger things, but I think Andrea Foster and Natricia Hooper are likely to give Guyana its first athletic medal at the Olympics”, a proud Edmond predicted.