From pride to excitement and apprehension, the emotions and expectations are running high among young Guyanese athletes as they prepare for the biggest competition they will ever compete in on home soil – the South American Junior (U20) Championships which is just two weeks away.With the competition being held locally, it opens many doors, including the opportunity for several athletes who may never have made national team to go overseas to be able to experience the atmosphere of an international meet, as their own family and friends are cheering them on.“For me it’s a privilege, this is one way of putting Guyana on the map since athletics hasn’t been that much of a major sport in Guyana,” said CARIFTA Games silver medallist, Anfernee Headecker.Claudrice McKoyOthers like CARIFTA gold medallist Claudrice McKoy doesn’t know where to begin describing just how she feels about something of just a big magnitude coming to Guyana.A distance runner, McKoy is particularly looking at the altitude advantage, since most other South America countries have higher altitudes, and colder climates, putting Guyanese athletes at a disadvantage when they have to compete in these countries.“Well I don’t really know what to feel, but it means a lot to me. I’m glad that I get to be a part of it. I know it’s going to be a bit stiffer than CARIFTA, and I’m just waiting to have the experience, and see how it goes,” McKoy expressed.McKoy is currently in the process of writing her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams, just like many others on the team. This of course will be a challenge for those athletes who have been finding it hard to juggle the demands of studying and preparing for a championship of this magnitude.“It’s hard, because I still have to put in a lot of training and I go home really tired, and I have to force myself to wake up early in the morning to study just to make ends meet. But being an athlete without academics makes no sense so I still have to balance my academics and my athletics, in order to reach where I want to go,” said Police Joanna Archer, who has completed just four of her eight subjects.For Archer, seeing the event come to Guyana is a matter of national pride, and she can’t wait for the overseas teams to get here, and have Guyana show off just what we can do.“It’s the first time it’s coming to Guyana so I’m really excited, because a lot of fans will be there, and it’s time for us Guyana to prove what we can’t do in front of them,” conveyed Police athlete Joanna Archer.Daniel WilliamsBut it’s not just all joy that she’s feeling, the weight of the expectations that many will be having for the local side to do the most, and the pressures that come with that, are also at the forefront of her mind.“I’m nervous because competing at home in front of the entire Guyana you have to give them something to brag about, but other than that I’m just focused. I know I can do it,” Archer said.Archer was one of the athletes who missed out on being on the team that attended the CARIFTA Games in April.Under the pressure of studying Archer says she just could not put in the kind of training she needed to reach the level of achieving the qualifying times to make that team.South American Youth Championships silver medallist Daniel Williams, on the other hand, is not looking to be too self-confident as he heads into this meet.After finishing with two silver and a bronze medal at last year’s Youth Championships in November, Williams was confident of CARIFTA Games medal last April, but had his hopes dashed as he returned home empty handed.“At CARIFTA I had high expectations and I didn’t do well, so for this Championships I’m not going in with much expectations, and will wait and see what happens,” he shared. He’s among those who feel a sense of pride from seeing the competition come to local shores.“I feel very proud for us to be hosting these Championships; hopefully it will bring other Championships to the country and hopefully it will help raise the standards of athletics in Guyana,” he said.A sixth form student of the Mackenzie High School in Linden, Williams is also facing harsh academic demands as he takes on his Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).