FROM AUSTRALIA TO ALGERIA.
Neighbouring Trinidad and the not-so-near Ahmedabad.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Throw in the American state of Georgia and the sovereign European state of the same name, and this AIBA women’s boxing has been a World Championships in much more than title.
The Wildey Gymnasium or the United Nations General Assembly?
There hasn’t been much of a difference for the nine days Barbados has welcomed 73 nations and over 800 visitors to its shores for the pinnacle of women’s amateur boxing.
Not even Turkey could boast of such numbers for basketball’s just concluded World Championships.
And though these resolutions have come via punches as opposed to pacts, the coexistence of many under one roof has been peaceful all the same.
Shouts of “Allez, allez”, “Vamos”
and “Andiamo” are as readily heard as chants of “USA, USA”, comfortably drowning out the sounds of “leh we go, man” to leave the local onlooker wondering if Wildey has become the world’s new melting pot.
But whether the language used is French or Spanish, Italian or Mandarin, English or Bajan, the championships have provided but one chorus – everyone was excited to hear that the Caribbean was hosting the games.
“We all were very happy when we heard the World Championships would be in Barbados [because] everyone wants to come here,” said boxer Maike Kluners of her German contingent.
“But when the tournament starts you can’t be enjoying the environment because your head is only on the fight.”
It wasn’t the case on Thursday – the tournament’s rest day – as the boxers traded in the headwear for swimwear and grasped shopping bags instead of gloves while taking in all the island had to offer.
So much so that a roving SATURDAY SUN team struggled to find many of the touring parties while visiting their various accommodation locations along the south coast.
“It’s a very nice place to have the tournament,” asserted Kluners’ compatriot Julia Irmen while sitting in the lounge of the Barbados Beach Club.
“We’re about to go snorkelling and then tonight [Thursday] we head to the [St Lawrence] Gap.”
Just as this tournament represents the region’s debut championships, so too has it served as a first trip to the iconic Caribbean for most of the touring parties, who would have only dreamed of visiting this side of the world.
“It’s the Caribbean, so it always sounds like a holiday even if you’re coming for competition,” expressed French-born boxer Lorna Weaver, who is of English parentage.
“I’ve been to China, Morocco and loads of countries in Europe, and they don’t compare to this.
“Everything is beautiful here. You’ve got the sea, the sunshine, and the people are smiling all the time,” Weaver added.
Even the pain of losing – both mental and physical – wasn’t enough to overshadow the pleasures the rest day was going to provide.
“The German team is out of the tournament now, but we did put up a good fight today [Thursday],” Kluners said.
“We plan to ride on the banana and do all the tourist stuff.”