ADD AUSTIN SEALY’S VOICE to the list of those crying out in the face of Barbados’ sporting woes.
Less than four years after figuring the country had a pair of medal hopefuls for the London Games, the International Olympic Committee member is more than worried at the prospects of Barbados’ daunting hopes at the Summer Olympics.
Sealy expressed the sentiment in an interview with NATIONSPORT after delivering the feature address of the 29th annual National Sports Awards Ceremony over the weekend.
“I don’t really know the state of athletics in Barbados because I haven’t been following it that closely, but when I learnt that only one person so far has made the qualifying standard it was a little disheartening,” said CARIFTA’s founding father.
“There isn’t that much time left before the games get underway either, and it’s not as if we have thousands and thousands of competitors or someone to come out of the woodwork who we haven’t seen that will make the mark at the last minute.
“I would say that certainly we will have a very small team for London but we’re a small country with limited resources in a worldwide recession so we’re never, ever going to have a big Olympic squad unless one of these days one of the team sports surprise us by qualifying,” he added.
His comments came just one week after the Barbados Olympic Association’s (BOA) Erskine Simmons said that athletes under the BOA’s elite programme would be contractually obligated to represent the country at future world games in light of Barbados’ dwindling returns.
Just last October, the ultramarine and gold managed a mere two bronze medals at the Pan American Games, with similarly woeful medal-less performances at both the World Championships and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
This coming after Barbados copped just ten medals in their last Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) appearance.
So far, only swimmer Bradley Ally has qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games, but he and former World champion hurdler Ryan Brathwaite have endured some trying times of late.
Sprinter Shakera Reece’s national record of 11.26 seconds in the 100 metres would’ve qualified her for the London Games. however, that time was run in October and the local athletics qualifying process dictates she meet that standard this year.
Outside of those three, no one else has even looked likely of posing a threat at the summer games – a clear indictment on the level of local sports.
But Sealy believes those shortcomings lie with the individual sporting bodies, and not the BOA, as the latter doesn’t actually train or prepare any of the country’s athletes.
“It’s for the national federations to devise their strategies and make their plans long term because they are the governing bodies for the respective sports,” advised Sealy.
“I would almost say let’s look beyond London and let’s target Rio for 2016. In between you will have the CAC Games and Pan Am Games but if our athletes cannot hold their own in those competitions then they are not up to Olympic standard because you have the whole world to contend with.”