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    November 14

  • 08:09 AM

A THORNY ISSUE: 12 Carifta medals just not cutting it

ANDI THORNHILL,

Added 26 April 2017

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BARBADOS GOT ONLY 12 medals from the CARIFTA Games.

That’s far below the threshold and the 20 projected before the squad left for Curacao.

Those in charge will have to analyse the reasons for the low return but, at the same time, we must praise those who got silverware and be supportive of those who didn’t, because I believe they all tried their best.

There will be several diverging views on the topic, but for me part of the narrative has to be about getting the athletes in shape physically, mentally and technically for the big meets.

The emphasis and hullabaloo surrounding school sports is one thing, but we must focus more on the bigger picture than we currently do. We have to impress on the athletes that school sports is one of the stepping stones on the journey to success but it’s not their final destination. Far from.

In my analysis of the recent secondary school championships, I made the point that winning at all costs isn’t the way to go. We must groom our charges properly because the real tests come when they compete at the higher levels.

However, sometimes, in the quest for parochial bragging rights, we can lose the plot as there is the temptation to give some key athletes a burdensome workload that might work for the benefit of the school but not the country.

There were some athletes in Curacao who looked tired, or not fully fit, and it affected their ability to perform at the level we know they can. This can happen because of the scheduling of the secondary school championships and the closeness of the CARIFTA trials to the CARIFTA Games.

In this regard, we may have to consider tweaking the aforementioned meets to give the athletes more time to be in better shape for a battle of such magnitude.

Let’s face it, while Jamaica have been the dominant force at the games, CARIFTA has served as the breeding ground for several outstanding athletes who have made an indelible mark on the international scene. This has not been exclusive to Jamaica.

The games can be seen as developmental and the medals gained may not always define the true stature or future direction of an athlete because for varying reasons some develop more quickly than others.

I believe that administrators must use every means available to ensure that our athletes are well prepared. That’s their responsibility; and leave the athletes to do the rest.

I also believe, too, that those who know they are carrying an injury that could affect their level of performance should be honest with themselves and their supporters and withdraw from the team.

If athletes aren’t healthy it will be extremely difficult for them to compete. It is better to pull out rather than go for the trip and just participate or become a virtual spectator.

I think that in keeping with international trends, we must strive to enter teams in every relay. We must be deliberate in this cause when you consider that there’s a relay world championship.

I agree with those who said we made a wrong call by not having a team in the Girls’ Under-18 4x100 metres relay. The talent was definitely available so there’s no excuse for refusing to give the girls that exposure.

The case to take Mary Fraser was a strong one but the authorities would have faced a backlash if she was shown favour ahead of those who may also have barely missed the qualifying standards in their respective events.

Although she’s proven her pedigree at this level, winning the prestigious Austin Sealy Award two years ago, the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) obviously felt they had to protect themselves.

The AAB must also be mindful that they, too, are accountable and must be open to ideas other than their own as we try to make the most of our talent base.

• Andi Thornhill is a veteran sports journalist. Email: andithornhill1@gmail.com

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