Three sports granted stay
Badminton, table tennis and weightlifting have made a case to the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) for inclusion in the October 3 to 14 Commonwealth Games in India, and the body has given them a chance to make good.
This will result in a larger contingent than that envisaged when BOA president Steve Stoute had expressed disappointment with the sub-par performances at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in July, leading to a reduced team.
“Since the last standards committee meeting, these three federations made a presentation to us. Having reviewed the situation, we have extended an invitation to table tennis, weightlifting and badminton to send two teams for development purposes,” said chef de mission Cammie Burke.
“We stress development. These are for players who have the potential to develop and carry the sport for a number of years, not the ones who are on the way out.”
Burke said table tennis was yet to take up the offer, but weightlifters Kristen Edwards and Brandon Inniss would be making the trip.
Also included are Dakeil Thorpe, Nicholas Reifer, Shari Watson and Mariama Eastmond from badminton.
“The Commonwealth Games are probably the second largest games after the Olympics, but you won’t find a lot of the big names, and we still wanted to prepare the athletes for competition, especially the bracket sports that don’t really get the opportunity,” Burke added.
The news has been welcomed by Kevin Wood, president of the Barbados Badminton Association (BBA). He said that while some of the players would have been disappointed, the younger ones were getting fresh opportunities and they were looking to even higher competition.
“If the BOA is using these four for development purposes, we would like to get two more on board and look at getting players for the 2012 Olympic Games and the World Championships,” he said.
“It would be difficult for the BBA to fund players to qualify for these tournaments. You need to have a certain world ranking before a cut-off time and you have to go to as many tournaments as possible.”
Even though they hadn’t been included in the Commonwealth Games team, several of the top players recently returned from a tournament in Trinidad and Tobago. Unfortunately, there are no other tournaments leading up to the main event, but Wood said they would use the local players to keep the team sharp, and Olympian Donna Kellogg from England, who is here for the Badminton In Barbados tournament, has also been providing tips and pointers.
Meanwhile, Burke said plans were well on stream ahead of the games. While he leaves on September 22, the netball team will be departing six days earlier for a ten-day training camp in Crawley, England, the home of Barbados’ 2012 training venue.
“We did it for hockey before the CAC Games and now we are doing it for netball because the team sports really need the opportunity to prepare,” Burke said.
The other team members leave on September 27 where they will join the netballers before moving on to India.