Dame Sandra Mason flashing a smile as netballers (second left) Shonica Wharton, Rieah Holder, Sabreena Smith and Vanessa Bobb show their appreciation. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
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An even number of medals will be distributed to men and women for the first time during the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
This was revealed by Australian High Commissioner John Pilbeam during the Commonwealth Games team flag handover ceremony at the Barbados Defence Force on Monday night.
“This is going to be the first Commonwealth Games when there will be an equal number of medal events for men and women. There are an odd number of events – 265 – but one of those events is mixed.
“For the other events there is an equal number and that’s the first time it has ever happened in a multi-sport event anywhere in the world. This is the first time it has happened in the Commonwealth Games and I imagine it will take a little while for the Olympics to catch up.
He said that he saw this undertaking as one which allowed for equality among the genders.
“That’s the special thing about the Commonwealth Games. It’s inclusive, and equality of opportunity is a tremendous thing. It actually makes people try harder. It’s something that we can all be proud of as people of the Commonwealth – that our games try to set an example throughout society,” he said.
Pilbeam said the theme of equality was observed even further with the inclusion of the parasports for disabled athletes.
“One special thing about the Games is the strong focus on building an equal opportunity to excel. You see that in parasports because it is just the same as any other sport as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. You do your best, you do better than everyone else, that’s worthy of special praise,” he said.
“We don’t need a special event which just has parasport people and they are integrated into the sports society just as they should be into life in general.”
Barbados Olympic Association president Sandra Osborne said she was also pleased with the equal distribution of medals which spoke to equality of gender, a demonstration of the way in which the Commonwealth holds dear to its values.
She added that it was appropriate to celebrate the athletes who have qualified for the Commonwealth Games and the officials who will accompany them at the 21st staging of the Games set for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, from April 4 to 15.
During the ceremony, squash champion Meagan Best was selected to carry the Barbados Flag at the Games.
BOA assistant secretary general Cammie Burke, who will serve as chef de mission of the Barbados contingent at the Games, said it was only fitting that she be nominated following her rich sporting record thus far.
“In 2016, at the tender age of 14, this outstanding young athlete would have become Barbados’ youngest senior champion and youngest ever Caribbean senior champion.
“Indeed, between January 2016 to present the player has been unbeaten with the loss of just a single game. In 2017, this outstanding Barbadian ended the year on a high note, capturing the girls’ under-17 (US Open) championship . . . . This year she has added the junior national championship to her long list,” said Burke.
Chairperson of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Cheryll Sealy-Belle wished the athletes all the best in their competition. (RG)