Wednesday, April 24, 2024

New-look BOA a start


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After?12 Olympiads, president of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) Steve Stoute truly deserves a medal for his dedicated service to local Olympism.
He has run a marathon and the time has come to pass on the baton well ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
There should also be sweeping changes to many other local sporting bodies. The Amateur Athletics Association needs to get back on track, so sorry, Esther Maynard. It’s time for speed, not only stamina!
The brakes must also be put on Keith Yearwood and the Barbados Cycling Union, which has been pedalling without an Olympic cyclist.
Swimming needs a bigger splash and newer strokes while boxing must get up off the canvas and look to throw big punches, instead of jabs.    
There should be a new-look BOA,?whose steering committee should have Jim Wedderburn, the first Barbadian Olympic bronze medal winner at the 1960 Rome Games, outstanding high jumper Anton Norris and former sprint queen Freida Nicholls serving as consultants.
Of course, the bitterness from the past has to be forgotten and negotiations should begin in earnest to bring back home Obadele Thompson, the 2000 Sydney Olympics 100-metre bronze medallist, along with his wife Marion Jones to be in charge of the national athletics programme, with Andrea Blackett as his assistant.
A good time to start the new programme would be January 1, 2013, when, hopefully, the new track, with correct measurements should be ready at the refurbished National Stadium.
Some of our outstanding former athletes who are now making a name for themselves in the United States as college coaches like Elvis Forde, Victor Houston, Ron Boyce and Mark Thorne should be brought on board to work with the local coaches and athletes.
Specialized coaches should also be appointed for swimming, gymnastics, equestrian, judo, boxing, volleyball and cycling among other sporting disciplines while plans should be made for local coaches to benefit from advanced courses and training workshops.
Every sport should have its own home or training facility equipped with ultra-modern equipment and all the requisite technological aids.  
Gold medal-winning American triple jumper Christian Taylor, whose parents are Barbadians, should be specially invited to Barbados to speak of his success with the intention of motivating young local athletes.
While Usain Bolt admitted Yohan Blake gave him a wake-up call, some of the smaller Caribbean islands also realized their dreams, with Grenada, through Kirani James, earning a maiden gold medal.
Apart from the big names like Bolt, Blake, James, Sherry-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown, there was the emergence of lesser known athletes such as Trinidadians Keshorn Walcott and Lalonde Gordon and Jamaican Warren Weir and Kittitian Antoine Adams.
The Bahamas’ quarter-milers Ramon Miller, Demetrius Pinder and Michael Mathieu combined with veteran Chris Brown to win the men’s 4x400m relay, ending the United States’ stranglehold on this event.
The old folks always said that if you make up your bed you must be prepared to lie down in it, but clearly we are day dreaming.
In 1968 when Barbados competed at the Olympics for the first time in Mexico, there were nine competitors – four cyclists, Colin Forde, Michael Stoute, Kensley Reece and Richard Roett; two athletes, Ezra Burnham and Hadley Hinds; one swimmer in Angus Edghill, a shooter in Milton Tucker and weightlifter Anthony “Mango” Phillips.
This time around, there were just four athletes, a judoka and a swimmer, a far cry from Sydney 2000, when there were 19.
But surely, Barbados has the talent to produce Olympians who can do this country proud.
Only a few weeks ago, our juniors, ranging from under-9s to under-15s, triumphed over the Jamaicans in their own backyard to capture the overall Caribbean Union Of Teachers (CUT) title.
There were a number of individual age group winners and a couple record breakers. Rivaldo Leacock, Tristan Evelyn and Tianna Bowen are three special talents as well as Jaria Hoyte, Rosette Hoyte, Tramaine Smith and twin sprinters Ajani and Leilani Haddock.
At the 2011 CARIFTA Games, Jerad Mason and Cindy Forde won the Under-17 boys and girls 800 metres, respectively, while Anthonio Mascoll won the Under-20 boys’ 800 metres.
Akela Jones is a talented multi-eventer with potential to become a medal-winning heptathlete. Here is an athlete who competes in the hurdles, the sprints, the high jump and the long jump, winning CARIFTA gold medals in the latter two, but what support system or specialized training has been put in place for her?
During the last decade, Wilan Louis, Dario Alleyne, Shakera Reece and Shekeim Greaves covered themselves in CARIFTA glory, beating the Jamaicans, Bahamians and Trinidadians but none of them made it to London. Has anyone asked why? Did the system fail them, or were they simply unable to move from one level to the next?
Now, we must ask ourselves whether there are any coaches in Barbados who can seriously turn two of our outstanding Under-17 athletes, Mario Burke and Romarco Thompson, as well as Levi Cadogan, into world-class athletes?
The gold medal success of Walcott, the World Juniors champion in the javelin, should be a reminder that we had several CARIFTA winners in this event ranging from Hugo Downes to Jamal Forde and Ramone Burgess. The Coleridge & Parry pair Janeil Craigg and Nicoliai Bovelle, our the latest standard-bearers in this event, rubbed shoulders with Walcott at this year’s CARIFTA Games.
Also, we must be pushing our 400 metres hurdlers Tramaine Maloney and Kion Joseph to first run under 50 seconds to gradually aim for sub-49s to reach and surpass people like Trinidadian Jehue Gordon and Jamaicans Leford Green, Roxroy Cato and Josef Robinson.
Barbados has won 400 metres gold medals at CARIFTA through Sherline Williams and Tanya Oxley and just a few years ago, we were celebrating Mara Weekes’ CARIFTA victory in the Under-17 girls’ 400 metres and had high hopes for her and her Lodge schoolmates Sade Sealy and Althia Maximilien.
Can anything still be done to get them close to the level of Jamaicans Novlene Williams-Mills, Rosemary Whyte and Christine Day or at least reach the qualifying standard like Guyanese Aliann Pompey, Grenadian Kanika Beckles, Vincentian Kineke Alexander, Bahamian Shaunae Miller and Antiguan Afia Charles?
Onward to Rio 2016!


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