Tuesday, April 16, 2024

EDITORIAL: Saluting young athletes

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TODAY we salute and celebrate Barbados’ young athletes who shone brightly at the just-concluded Flow CARIFTA Games in Grenada.

They not only performed well, but some also broke records as they blazed the track. With the final medal count at 20 – six gold, six silver and eight bronze – the entire country can be proud of their achievements, coming in third behind powerhouses Jamaica and The Bahamas.

And while the entire team did well, it was the performances of Coleridge & Parry schoolboy Johnathan Jones, a distance runner, and his former schoolmate, sprinter Sada Williams, who left their marks on the Games.

On the first day on tr ack, Jones won the Under-18 Boys’ 1 500 metres in a record time of three minutes, 57.19 seconds, eclipsing the 4.04 set by Jamaican Theon O’Connor in 2007. Williams also ran a new personal best and national junior record of 52.07 seconds in the 400 metres for Under-20 Girls.

Then on the final day, the two stars left an indelible mark on the Games. Jones smashed the Under-18 800 metres record, while Williams would have added the 200 metres record, if not for an above-the-limit wind factor, after an awesome run. Barbadians at home and in the stands of the Grenada Athletics Stadium beamed with pride at the efforts of these young athletes.

This then swelled into a warm welcome home on Tuesday for the team that had done Barbados proud in a fitting climax of weeks of athletics excellence at the primary and secondary school levels. It is for this reason that sporting officials and authorities must spare no effort in investing in our athletes.

They must have the prerequisite training facilities to elevate them to the next level. They must match their enthusiasm and performance. We hope that every effort is being made to speed up renovations to the National Stadium so our athletes have access to other proper training facilities which would allow them to improve on their performances and be ready for bigger competitions.

Sadly, so many athletes have been left in the blocks, their accomplishments and outstanding times well forgotten in their younger days because they had no one to push them to do better, and no one lobbying for better conditions for them. Let us not make the same mistake with this young crop who have shown they have what it takes to keep Barbados on the sporting map.

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