EIGHT runners who completed the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) and BAFA Sports' virtual 5K challenge by yesterday's original deadline have collected their commemorative medals.

The virtual race began last November and was scheduled to close yesterday. However, the deadline has been extended until January 31 to facilitate the quickly growing demand for the application.

According to BAFA Sports representative Nigel Bellamy, the smart phone application has reached over 400 users since its launch.

BAFA Sports' virtual race app, which can be accessed following registration at bafasports.com, records the runners' distances and times. To register on the app, there is a $99 fee which is directed to the TTOC's Athlete and Welfare Fund. Bellamy, who developed the application, highlighted the reasons for creating the initiative. One reason, he said, is to "keep the country moving." Another reason is to support athletes as they prepare to represent this country.

Bellamy said, "At the end of the day, this whole marriage, between technology and wellness and sport, we think is a very good one. It gives you the ability to be very flexible with your wellness. You can do it on your own time according to your schedule."

The eight runners who received medals yesterday were Rayanne Sebro, Andrew Pacheco, Yovan Choo King, Merryl See Tai, Colin Young, Rebecca Keong Fatt, Vivian Johnson and Don Polo.

Polo, a commander in the TT Coast Guard and a seasoned runner, said he registered on Friday in support of the athletes and for his preparation for the TT International Marathon which takes place later this year.

Polo said, "Because the app is being pushed by BAFA, by athletes for athletes, I would like to do something to support TT athletes – it's one of the main reasons I signed up, because I recognise that sport plays a really important role in the development of young people.

"The app itself is free to use but the donation is something I saw value in. It was me doing my part to help the Olympic Committee to achieve its goal, but also to help young people in TT who need that financial support for equipment, sometimes for food, sometimes for vitamins, sometimes just to travel."

He added, "There are so many strong young athletes that need assistance in order to get over that social hump so that they can reach their full potential, and this is just one initiative that I feel can go towards helping them to achieve their potential."

In terms of the application's interface and functionality, Polo described it as "a wonderful app."