A BLAST FROM THE PAST still thinks Barbados’ distance running is really running backwards.
One time record holder George Griffith has lamented the state of the local sport once again following Barbados’ continual struggles in the half-marathon and says he is prepared to help to put distance running back on course.
Griffith made the comments a week after the 30th edition of the Run Barbados series where a Barbadian could only place as high as ninth in the half marathon.
“I’ve been disappointed for the last couple years actually because I set a Barbados record of one hour, 13 minutes and 35.5 seconds back in 1967 and the fact that we are more than 40 years later and the first Barbadian home did 1:22:08,” he explained.
“It shows we have been in reverse for some time now and we need to change that. Even though the few people involved are giving of their best efforts, clearly we have a long way to go so we can regain what
we had in the past.”
It’s the second time in three years that the executive director of the Barbados Family Planning Association has expressed such sentiments after making similar comments following the end of the 2010 series.
The first Bajan finished that half marathon in 1:20:32, almost two minutes faster than Jerome Blackett’s ninth-placed clocking this year.
Barbados hasn’t seriously contended for the top spot in either the marathon or half marathon since the days of Adelbert Browne and Reuben McCollin in the late 1980s.
“I feel we need to look at young people from age 16 to 24 in the first instance in terms of remedial work, and we have to accept that mental stamina is as important as the physical because if you don’t have the mental capacity to judge a race then you’re still in trouble,” reasoned Griffith.
“It’s not that we don’t have the talent either,
as I see so many scores and scores of strong looking men on the block so that means there is a lot of talent going by untapped and undiscovered. And there are so many opportunities that are available today for a youngster who is not strong academically to make good money from it.
“But it calls for those people with the experience and competence like myself to come forward and offer assistance to the NSC, schools and the clubs and hopefully they would take the guidance and support.”
He recalled his days as a schoolboy at St Catherine’s where he was a part of the Phillipians Club, and called for more cross-country races during the athletics calendar to encourage more juniors to pick up the discipline.
“We had the support system from school teachers and we had regular cross-country runs,” Griffith said.
“At that time wherever you went in Barbados you had people expressing interest in athletics, particularly distance running.”