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A THORNY ISSUE: Riley, Browne given raw deal


ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Riley, Browne given raw deal

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WE SURE KNOW how to demoralise those who merit selection on national teams.

I think recent instances in table tennis and bodybuilding give credence to my belief.

I read both sides of the story and could find no justification for the selectors leaving our best female player at home for the Caribbean Table Tennis Championships in the Dominican Republic.

Anthonette Riley should have been in the team without a doubt. As I understand it, Riley was injured before the team was chosen, but did the selectors check with her about her state of health before naming the squad?

If they didn’t, it seems to me that something wasn’t right, for surely it can’t be an oversight to omit your best player for a major tournament without doing due diligence.

If under normal circumstances Riley would be the first name down in her category because of her status as the island’s number one, she should have been accorded the respect due a champion.

What would it have taken off the selectors to find out from Riley if she had recovered fully before putting the team together?

I am not suggesting her presence would have made a big difference to the outcome of matters at the Championships, but my point has to do with appearing to deny her the legitimate right to be on the team because she earned it. She is the current singles champion if credentials on her right to be in the squad needed validation.

Nobody can really assess on hindsight how she would have performed simply because she was denied the opportunity to be there in the first place.

Was any thought given to how this disappointment could affect her mentally and emotionally going forward?

Promising talent

There are people who have quit sports for less, so we must be mindful how some issues are dealt with because we all handle things differently. I am certain it can’t be to anybody’s benefit in table tennis to discourage such a promising talent from continuing to showcase her skills.

Bodybuilding seems to have major problems in this area as well, but it seems to have more to do with how its leaders choose to communicate with their subjects than anything else.

I hope their approach to some bodybuilders has nothing to do with politics, after the stormy passage the executive had to endure following a disputed result at the last elections which was eventually settled in court.

However, I have to agree with reigning physique queen. Ronda Browne, that she was disrespected by the sport’s bosses, having to read in the Press that she didn’t make the team for the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Championships in Santo Domingo.

It is no way to treat anybody with high expectations of being selected on a national team, far less a queen who was outstanding at nationals.

The selectors might argue that it is their right to choose who they consider to be best suited for a particular championship, but if winning your category at nationals isn’t part of the criteria, something has to be dead wrong.

What else must you do?

The good thing about this scenario is that Browne has refused to let it break her spirit and has vowed to continue training hard for future events.

Reservations

You also have to be concerned when a multiple Mr Barbados has reservations about representing his country. Stevenson Belle also speaks about being disrespected, so bodybuilding’s leaders must take note.

There may be others who feel the same but lack the courage to speak publicly about it for various reasons, fear of victimisation being one of them. But we must try to avoid the possibility of alienating the cream of the sport because without them you can’t sell or market bodybuilding effectively.

As it is, we don’t have outstanding bodybuilders coming in clusters like before among both genders as the other forms become more popular, but are we prepared to allow it to become an endangered species by engaging in counter-productive antics, notwithstanding that next to cricket, bodybuilding was the flagship of excellence we displayed to the world back in the day?

We must keep reminding ourselves that in general, we have a very small fleet of top class athletes to choose from who can compete, and not just participate, at the highest level.

When we create obstacles to stifle their growth, we are also creating sporting suicide, even if inadvertently. We must keep focusing on the bigger picture.

I am not suggesting that elite players be allowed to get away with murder, but administrators must also be able to use the human touch to resolve certain issues. It’s a matter of being able to meet each other half way for mutual benefits.

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