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Not to chance

Justin Marville

Not to chance

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Lottery or not, the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA)?is not leaving the country’s medal hopes to chance.
The days of Barbados going to high-level meets without their stars will be a thing of the past from 2013, as the country’s Olympic body plans to have its elite athletes under contractual obligation to wear the Ultramarine and Gold for the next four-year cycle.
BOA’s secretary general Erskine Simmons said availability for world-class events would be a necessity for those athletes to receive future funding while addressing the swimming association’s annual awards ceremony at Hilton Barbados on Sunday.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to have these athletes available, but we think that come 2013 to 2016, the next quadrennial, we need to address the athletes signing a contract which pertains to them competing in all major games we take part in, so we have our best athletes competing for Barbados,” said Simmons.
“We want to work with all the parties involved to make this a smooth process but there are not many to choose from, because when you think of it, we’re a very small country. We have a lot of talent but there are very few elite athletes.”
It’s the second time in four months a high-ranking BOA official spoke of future contractual obligations, following president Steve Stoute’s comments on the need for his organization to take a greater role in those athletes’ preparation.
That statement came in light of Barbados’ high-profile struggles at major meets; most recently last year’s Pan American Games, where Barbados managed a mere two bronze medals in the absence of stars Ryan Brathwaite and Bradley Ally.
And that followed similarly woeful medal-less performances at both the World Championships and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India. This coming after Barbados managed just ten medals in their last Central American and Caribbean Games appearance.
But Simmons said the BOA’s concern went past the availability of its elite athletes, as the Olympic body also intended to take a greater role in the training of those top-level competitors ahead of major events.
“We never had that sort of hands [on] approach [to] athletes in the past because the BOA doesn’t own any athletes as they come through the national federations . . . but we had a situation where one of our top athletes didn’t do so well at the World Championships for instance, and it was far from what we had hoped,” Simmons explained.
“We believe that we can have our athletes competing at the highest possible level while preparing for competition, because I don’t see why we shouldn’t want to have our athletes prepared properly for various competitions.
“And this is a win-win situation for everyone because they [the athletes] are the ones who would receive benefits from this.”
The BOA has already enlisted the services of a high-performance training centre in Crawley, England, to facilitate the training of Barbados’ Olympic squad two weeks ahead of the London Summer Games.