Saturday, February 24, 2018

Strength boost for T&T athletes

Armstrong/Memphis stage six-week programme


LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Adia Armstrong demonstrates a stretching exercise to a group of East Mucurapo Secondary footballers during the Republic Bank-sponsored Memphis Pioneers strength and conditioning programme, at the club’s gym in Woodbrook, yesterday. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

Mark Fraser

Forty footballers from East Mucurapo Secondary and Belmont Secondary in the 12-14 age-group are benefitting from a six-week strength and conditioning programme.

Sponsored by Republic Bank and hosted by Memphis Pioneers at the club’s gym in Woodbrook, the programme is being conducted by Adia Armstrong, with assistance from her sister Rashida McKinnon.

Armstrong was a quality quarter-miler in her competitive days. She was known as Adia McKinnon at the time, and represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, as well as the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Armstrong has a personal best of 52.69 seconds, and is still the national junior (under-20) record holder in the women’s 400 metres with the 52.91 clocking she produced in Illinois, USA, back in May 2000.

Armstrong is married to another former athlete, American Sherman Armstrong. They are both employed by the University of Georgia, Adia as strength and conditioning coach for the track and field team, and Sherman as strength and conditioning coach for the American football team.

The six-week Memphis Pioneers programme started on Monday and concludes on August 19. (Adia) Armstrong is here for two weeks, and will then leave the young footballers in the hands of Memphis coaches Bedawi Gomez and Antonia Burton, who are being mentored by Armstrong during the first fortnight of the programme.

Memphis’ objective is the expansion of its strength and conditioning programme to young Port of Spain and environs athletes in all sports, since the club considers strength and conditioning one of the key factors in the development of elite athletes.

In an interview with the Express, yesterday, Armstrong spoke about the importance of strength and conditioning.

“Trinidad and Tobago does not have the strength component. Children today are on the phone and computer a lot, and they suffer when they go out to do sport because they cannot do a basic movement. Children are missing a stage in their development, and we need to bring it back because of things like obesity and type two diabetes.

“Strength and conditioning,” Armstrong explained, “is not always weights. A child who is seven can learn how to exercise properly, and at 11 or 12 can be introduced to dumbbells, medicine balls, etcetera.”

Armstrong, who is the niece of Memphis Pioneers coach and 1964 Olympic 4x400m bronze medallist Edwin Skinner, said she is laying a foundation during her two-week stay in T&T.

“I’m giving the coaches a template. I’ll be keeping in touch with Bedawi and Antonia to progress the programme, and the goal is that after six weeks the athletes would show a certain level of improvement.”