The road to being an elite athlete
By Lisa king | Mon, October 01, 2012 - 11:30 AM
He is a big believer in development through sport.
Glyne Clarke, general manager of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA), is of the view that “even if you are not using sport [to produce] an elite athlete, [it has] a part to play in terms of development, health, the discipline it requires, and team spirit”.
He said that involvement in sports helped to develop a person’s leadership and public speaking skills, confidence and ambition.
“It can open avenues that a person would not normally venture into or which would otherwise have been closed. You get to travel the world. It levels the playing field . . . if you have talent and are willing to work, but you need to start the children from a young age – that way they understand and realize their potential,” Clarke explained.
He got involved in sports over 30 years ago, playing basketball at Harrison College, then with the Pine Hill Royals and getting involved in the club’s administration at a really young age.
In addition to being an International Basketball Federation referee and a referee trainer, Clarke also had a stint as vice-president of technical operations of the Caribbean Basketball Confederation.
He recounted stories of children who were not good at academics but their doing well in sports translated into other aspects of their lives, making them want to excel at school since they were no longer satisfied with being mediocre.
“Plus, it has academic benefits in terms of scholarship opportunities,” he added.
While the BOA deals with all sports, its mandate is to develop Olympic sports in Barbados. It therefore seeks to develop athletes, administrators and coaches.
The BOA general manager said a multipurpose facility for athletes involved in all the Olympic sporting disciplines was essential if Barbadian athletes were to develop to their full potential.
With this aim in mind, the association intends to build a small 500-seat facility for multiple sports within the next four years leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. In addition, an initiative called the Long-Term Athlete Development Programme is being put in place and Clarke himself is spearheading it.
“Most people feel that an athlete develops at 16, but . . . our athletes do very well until age 16. There are lots of medals when a team competes. But when they pass that, there are no [more] medals.
“There is some challenge in terms of getting medals; that could be because we do not have the kind of focus and the coaching facilities.
“It takes a different approach as well because to be an elite, you can use raw talent up to 16 and get by. After that, you have to hone special skills and muscles, and in a lot of cases it is not just the body but the mind as well and the overall development.”
Regarding specialist training, Clarke said there needed to be an understanding of what it took to make an elite athlete.
“In terms of the cost, we would understand why we are behind a lot of countries. Most countries have millions of dollars to spend; our annual budget is a fraction of that.”
Clarke said the private sector would need to get involved and Barbadians would have to play their part in helping to develop elite athletes. Even though people hear about the Olympic Games once every four years, he added, a lot of preparation goes into the Games.
He said that throughout those four years there was a build-up in preparing athletes for the big athletic competition, which included taking part in the Central American And Caribbean Games, the Pan American and Commonwealth Games, as well as the Youth Olympics.
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