Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Track team ‘undercooked’


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Two-time Olympian Seibert Straughn says the track and field performance at the 21st Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia, was a let-down.

Straughn, 50, one of this country’s finest quarter-milers and a member of the Olympic squad to the Seoul and Barcelona Games, questioned the preparation of the team that came up empty-handed over the past week.

“How prepared was the team? Were they competition-ready? From the results, it doesn’t seem so to me. Not a single personal best. That has to be very disappointing,” he said.

“We have to seriously examine what we are doing wrong and what we need to improve. We have to ask some hard questions. We have to call a spade, a spade. Something is wrong.

“We can’t keep going to these global meets and have so many people being knocked out in the opening round.

“I want to applaud hurdler Shane Brathwaite and the sprint relay team for making it to their respective finals, but the overall performance fell very short. I think we all expected more,” he said.

The Games were held early in the American outdoor season with the majority of the United States-based team not having yet reached their peak, but Straughn said that could not be used as an excuse for the team’s modest showing.

“Athletes from other countries with United States-based athletes were faced with the issue and did much better.  The dates for the Commonwealth Games didn’t just drop out of the sky. Athletes would have known for some time the Games were known and should have prepared.

“If you know you are not 100 per cent, do not go. You have to make the best decisions for you,” he said.

Straughn, who has led Christ Church Foundation to back-to-back secondary schools’ girls titles, said the rest of the Caribbean had left Barbados behind.

Jamaica got 26 medals, Trinidad and Tobago three, Bahamas four, Grenada two, Dominica two, while Guyana, St Lucia and Bermuda secured gold medals.

“Guyana and Dominica were one-two in the triple jump. Little Bermuda got a gold medal (women’s triathlon) and St Lucia has a gold from Levern Spencer (women’s high jump). We didn’t get a medal of any kind.

“You just don’t get medals, you have to earn them, and we have to look at our sports programme. We have to find out what we are doing wrong and find ways to get results. I am really concerned,” he said.

Straughn also expressed concern at the recurrence of the hamstring injuries dogging promising 200/400 runner Sada Williams. He also questioned the continued selection of veteran shooter Mike Maskell.

“When I competed at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, Maskell was part of the contingent. Twenty-eight years later, he is still competing and has not delivered anything. Why are we persevering with him?

“The plight of Sada Williams has to be a big worry. This is the third time that she has been dogged by the same injury. If we are not careful, we are going to lose her. She is a good talent, we have to help her.”

Straughn said the solution has to be holistic.

“We have a lot of talent in Barbados but we have to find ways to develop it. The athletes can’t do it alone; it has to be a holistic approach involving all the stakeholders. We have to put our heads together and find the way forward.” (MK)


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