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Our athletes need a break


Our athletes need a break

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IT IS FRUSTRATING to hear or read opinions from individuals on topics they really do not comprehend.

On several occasions, I read articles commenting on the performances of athletes that were very disheartening.

Rather than commending the performances, we note said performance and engulf the remaining article with what was not accomplished.

Good and mediocre athletes put more pressure on themselves than the average person will ever know.

Our athletes read the Barbadian newspapers like some of us should read the Bible.

This negativity and additional pressure only dampen their spirits and add more unnecessary pressure to perform.

When most people are in bed, these athletes are training. When we are out enjoying parties and the fine dining, they are training.

Some athletes are lucky enough to be rewarded with a scholarship and as of late, even fewer – two – were rewarded with world titles.

The majority of our athletes will only have the honour of being mentioned in the local paper, and maybe a friend or relative seeing that paper.

Why is it that after Ryan Brathwaite’s world title and national record, all Barbadians see is what we consider his short-comings on the track?

Athletes are not machines; they are not cars, motorcycles or planes. Even the best car driver under ideal conditions will not perform at his or her highest level every time. Give the guy a break.

Remember the joy you felt when Obadele Thompson was on the Olympic podium? Remember how you felt when Brathwaite won the gold?

That joy quickly fades for the public, and even quicker for the athlete, only to be replaced with the pressure of a nation to perform.

The public now expects Brathwaite to run 13.14 seconds or better every time he competes – anything less is a failure by our standards.

The difference between 13.13 and 13.39 may be as small as not approaching one of his hurdles correctly or not getting that good start needed.

Give the guy a break.The difference between 13.14 and 12-point could be as small as a newspaper printing, Good Job, Ryan, Barbados Is Always Behind You. Once again, give the guy a break.

Brathwaite is still very young when it comes to hurdling, still maturing as an athlete, and still getting stronger. He is still working out the technique flaws and will continue to pursue perfection of all these things until his career is over.

That is the nature of being an athlete. What we need to do for Brathwaite is give him our support; congratulate him on his successes, and encourage him when he does not give us the machine-like results we want.

For some of us, “almost”, “closer” and “nearer” may be good enough.

For a professional athlete, almost, closer and nearer is a physically and mentally frustrating place to be. I beg you, Give the guy a break.