It was going to be the crown jewel in the Prince George Track and Field’s history of hosting high-calibre track and field meets. Somewhere between 250 and 300 athletes from nations all over the globe would have converged on the city for the World Preview meet in July, prior to attending the World Track and Field meet in Edmonton. But a loss of volunteers has ended Tom Masich’s dream of hosting a world event, and put the upcoming PGTFC season on shakey ground.
“It’s going to be a big chunk of slack to pick up,” says Masich, who is the local track club’s president.
Bill Masich, the club’s foremost running coach, is in Vancouver part of June and all July, working on his education degree. Howard Pinnock, co-ordinator of equipment of field facilities has taken a job in Salmon Arm, and Wayne Phipps, the Idaho coach who was to be the meet’s director, can only be in the city for a few days this summer. All together it means a distinct lack of skilled help for the club. “All things being fair our track and field club will have a difficult year to get through,” says Masich.
The steady decline in high school track and field is another concern Masich has for the future of the PG club. If the schools stop getting athletes interested in the sport and feeding into the club, they may find themselves with too few competitors.
“High school track and field athletes don’t want to put in the committment to be a succesful track and field athlete,” says Masich. “I know athletes in this city that could give (Idaho scholarship recipient) Josh Guggenheimer a run for his money, but they don’t come out.”
The World Preview meet was an idea that had been germinating ever since the end of the 1998 Legion National Championships. Masich says to see two years worth of planning fizzle out brings with it mixed feelings. Although he had hoped to bring world class competition to the city, he realized in the past few months that the responsibility and co-ordination for the event would rest almost solely on himself.
“If we’re going to have world class athletes here we want them to go away with a good taste in their mouth regarding Prince George. If we couldn’t guarantee that then it’s best not to go ahead.”
The recent announcment that Calgary was planning on hosting a preview meet of its own the day after the planned Prince George meet also played a part in the decision to cancel the local event, says Masich.