By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
After completing all the checks and paperwork, it will probably take International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) about three additional weeks to review them and grant proper certification for the use of the national stadium, according to Track Masters International's Matthew Cohen.
As the finishing touches were being put on the outside of the state-of-the-art track and field facility - a gift to the Bahamian people from the Chinese - he was busy on the inside doing a number of checks (the measurements, markings and landing areas) on the track and field to make sure they are in accordance with IAAF rules and regulations and "ready for international competition," he said.
Cohen hinted that the new stadium should pass the inspection with flying colours. "I've been checking all of the markings and I've noticed that there's nothing wrong," he stressed. "I'm impressed with what I've seen. What a lovely facility."
The national stadium reportedly cost $50 million to build and was officially handed over to the Bahamas government last June. While the stadium itself is complete, a $49 million project to creating parking and beautify the area around it is continuing. It took Chinese workers almost three years to complete the stadium, according to reports.
In fact, Cohen said the certification should be ready in time to host next month's Nationals. "They can have the nationals here next month. The certification should be ready in time."
Cohen, who has been in New Providence since Saturday, said he expects that his work will be completed before the week is out. "I'm just checking the track to make sure that all of the markings are all in accordance to the IAAF regulations and ready for international competition."
Tim Munnings, director of sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, recruited Cohen to do the certification.
With the stadium - considered the jewel of the region - built at a very high standard by the People's Republic of China with their donation of the $15,000 seating facility to the Bahamas, Cohen said there's not much that he has had to do. "Regarding the surface, I've been checking the level to make sure that it is even, uniformed, flat and there is no heaps or bumps," he said.
"I've been checking the speed resistance to make sure that it is not slippery and how hard the surface is compared to concrete so it won't damage the athletes.
"I've also been checking the landing areas where the javelin is going to land, where the shot put is going to land, where the discus is going to land to make sure that it's not going down hill. And I'm checking the measurement to make sure that it's 100, 200 and 400 meters, all that kind of stuff," he added.
Cohen said everything is looking very good. "They did a very good job," he said, adding that it's just a case of the IAAF putting its seal of approval on his recommendations.
Cohen, whose company is based in Thailand, is being assisted by a number of Bahamian workmen employed at the stadium. One of them is Jeffery Hepburn.
"This project is a very nice one. We did a great job on it. I really like it," said the former sprinter/long jumper from RM Bailey Secondary High School.
"It's a very nice place to be. The first time I came here, it was a shock. I could see this stadium doing a lot for the Bahamas. In the next couple of years, this is where all the money will be."
Compared to various places where he has done similar certifications, Cohen said the workmen have truly completed the construction of the stadium at a very high standard.
"It's right up there with a lot of other national stadiums," he said. "The national stadium should be the showpiece of your country and this is really nice, it's great."
The only thing left for the completion of the facility on the inside is the certification for FIFA for the use of the grass area to play international soccer matches.
In the meantime, workmen were seen busy working on the paving of the parking lot and laying down the green space. It's not yet known when that will be completed.