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Plan for more elite athletes

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Plan for more elite athletes

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With only six athletes, the smallest number in more than a decade, meeting the qualifying standards for London 2012, Barbados is putting a new collaborative programme in place to ensure a larger number of qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The announcement was made by Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley last Friday during a farewell reception for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic teams at the residence of the British High Commission in Pine Hill, St Michael.
He said there were several countries that had no qualifiers.
“Although we are having a team of six, I think we should be justly proud as a nation to be able to say we do have athletes that have qualified for the Games.
“We therefore consider it a phenomenal achievement that Barbados has qualified, through the efforts of six of our athletes, especially given our limited resources,” Lashley said.
“Barbados does not have the extensive resources of some of our competitors, but continues to attain recognition through the outstanding performance of our athletes.
“The Government recognizes the importance of adequate facilities and support mechanisms to the development of our athletes, and stands committed to ensuring that these needs are indeed met.
“In addition to enhancing our sports facilities, including refurbishing the National Stadium and replacing the National Stadium’s athletic track, we should soon also be embarking on a rolling Olympics programme for our athletes.”
The programme is still in the nascent stages. The initiative of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) will see that body working with the National Sports Council and the national federations to set up a structure to provide a cadre of elite athletes.
“It is designed to ensure the preparation of selected athletes is optimized towards their eventual participation in the Olympic Games,” said Lashley.
“We envision that this would certainly redound to an increased number of athletes qualifying for the Olympics and indeed exceeding and excelling in that particular arena.”
The minister said many talented athletes were coming out of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletic Championships and there had to be avenues for them.
In addition to the sports administrators putting the programmes in place, athletes also had to prepare themselves psychologically, physically and otherwise to be able to undergo that level of preparation.
Esther Maynard, president of the Amateur Athletic Association and manager of the athletics team, said it was a young one, which “means we are doing something right in that direction” and “should be the nucleus that should take us not only to this Olympics, but to the next”.
Hurdlers Greggmar Swift, Shane Brathwaite and Ryan Brathwaite are 21, 22 and 24, respectively. Sprinter Ramon Gittens is 24 and judoka Kyle Maxwell is also 21. Bradley Ally is the oldest at 25 years old.