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Stoute’s record stands the test

Stoute’s record stands the test

By Andi Thornhill | Wed, October 24, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Steve stoute is a thoroughbred as a sports administrator.

He has a proven track record as an elite organizer not only in Barbados but on international turf as well.

Four consecutive terms as head of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) took some doing and he’s among a handful who have served as chairman of the National Sports Council under different political administrations.

The icing on the cake is that he’s very affable and liked by most.

I believe his administrative skills were first recognized in cycling as head honcho with Brighton Saddle Boys and later the leading light in organizing International Cycling in the mid-1970s when world-class riders showcased their skills on the velodrome of the National Stadium.

Since his departure from that arena, others have tried but haven’t come anywhere close to staging an international meet of the same pedigree.

Stoute proceeded to create a legacy as president of the BOA and as alluded to earlier, has served in top positions on regional and international boards as well. Clearly, his skills are still in demand and that could only have been achieved through efficiency and professionalism.

It is against this background that he was challenged at the recent elections by Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne. I laud Browne for having the courage to challenge Stoute who, despite his credentials, isn’t immune to rivalry for his position as BOA president.

There’s nothing wrong with Browne or anyone else having an eye on the top prize, especially if they feel that they have the vision to improve the performance of the organization.

However, it is always going to be difficult to beat iconic figures in elections unless you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the incumbent has been incompetent or, as in Stoute’s case, that he had overstayed his time and has little or no gas left in the tank to oversee another meaningful four-year term at the helm.

The electorate obviously thought that he was still capable of leading them through tough times with a commanding 34-9 margin of victory.

Smart campaigner that he is, Stoute would have gone the extra mile to ensure he canvassed his constituents, not taking their votes for granted, because it did seem at one stage that Browne would offer him a very stiff challenge. In fact, many were surprised by his runaway victory.

I think one of the reasons Browne lost was that he overplayed his hand much too early – having his plans all over the media with more than a month leading up to the poll. This gave Stoute and his team more than enough time to plan alternative strategy.

I am not saying there was anything wrong with Browne’s vision for the way forward but I thought his campaign was too overt. In the end, the majority of the electorate weren’t convinced he would do a better job than Stoute if he were to be entrusted with the reins.

By extension, his running mate Craig Archer proved to be the fall guy, as he was the only member of the past board not to be returned.

In a sense, the old boys’ club remained intact with only minor damage to its shape and formation.

What should we expect and demand from the executive in the next four years?

I think it is important that through the BOA’s leadership, a platform is provided for us to devise a plan to get on the Olympic podium again. Since Obadele Thompson at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, we have looked less likely to medal again and this year we reached an all-time low in numbers when only six, excluding any women, represented us in London.

Yes, Ryan Brathwaite reached the final of his event, and this was outstanding seeing that his form had dipped appreciably since he won the men’s 110-metre hurdles in 2009 in Germany.

With a four-year window to the next World Games in Brazil, I think we have to put the elite athlete programme in place without delay, identifying those we think have the potential and setting out strict guidelines for them to follow. This means that they will be adequately funded and provided with suitable conditions and opportunities to train and compete even at events outside some of the major ones leading up to the Olympics.

I think Government and corporate entities must be in concert with the association to make it possible.

If at the end of the cycle this programme proves successful and we do get some Olympic medals, Stoute can bow out triumphantly and gracefully knowing that the electorate’s faith in him was justified.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.

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