Under-20s medal drought
The scarcity and general under-performance of women in the Under-20 division and over is a major concern for Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) president Esther Maynard.
Barbados won 18 medals at the CARIFTA Games and a further 15 medals at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Juniors in the Dominican Republic, and only one came from the Under-20 girls’ division.
There were no medals from the women at the CAC Games in Puerto Rico or the Commonwealth Games in India.
“My concern is the sparsity of female athletes over the age of 17 and their performance in international competition. In the Under-20 girls, with the exception of the 4×4 [relay at the CARIFTA Games], we didn’t get a medal,” Maynard told NATION SPORTS.
“But the Under-17 girls performed very, very well at CAC and CARIFTA. A lot of them were double medalists. I think at CAC the Under-17s (boys and girls combined) won 14 of the 15 medals.”
Maynard said instead of pointing fingers at the athletes, she prefers to look at it as weaknesses in the system that the AAA needs to correct.
“Correct the weakness and the outcome should improve. Three-parts of the time it is not their fault. Look at them as areas that the Association needs to put more resources. An athlete is only the result of good coaching or bad coaching after you put everything else in the equation,” she added.
To this end, Maynard said they would be engaging the coaches to look for solutions.
“We are going to have to bring the coaches in on this because the coaches are the first line of contact with the athletes. If the coaches don’t bring the athletes to the table, that is where the fallout comes,” the president said.
“We also have to look very carefully at the potential ones coming out from last year from Inter-School and monitor them more closely as to their training. And we have to do some talent identification and look at areas where we need to place more emphasis on specific events, particularly with the women.”
Overall, Maynard said there were “reasonable performances” last year, because they won medals at every major meet with the exception of the Commonwealth Games.
Maynard said Ryan Brathwaite’s sub-par season was caused by injuries, but labeled as “gutsy” his silver medal in a wind-aided 13.10 seconds at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Under-23 Championships, and the CAC gold in the 110m hurdles.
While there were also some very encouraging performances from the juniors, Maynard said the real test was yet to come for Greggmar Swift, Mara Weekes, Sadé Sealy and Shekeim Greaves who will be stepping up to the senior ranks this year.
The AAA was able to source training opportunities overseas for high jumper Thorrold Murray and throwers Justin Cummins, and would be looking for more opportunities for other athletes in 2011.