Lynch backs team
The criticism of the winless Barbados track and field team at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Australia is unjust and unfounded.
That’s the view of Amateur Athletic Association (AAB) vice-president Noel Lynch.
Lynch, a former national sprinter, said the team did well under the circumstances, saying it was tough for most of them as the Games were held early in the American outdoor season with the majority of the United States-based team not having yet reached their peak.
He took strong issue with two-time Olympian and former ace quarter-miler Seibert Straughn, who has questioned the preparation of the team that came up empty-handed, with the majority of the team being knocked out in the opening rounds.
“It was early in the season and was tough for our athletes. It is not fair to say that it was early for all the other athletes, not for those athletes from the southern hemisphere, people who live and train in South Africa have reverse winters to us, so that is why some of the Australians and South Africans did so well. Straughn is talking rubbish; he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
“Anyone who is familiar with how track and field is structured, particularly those who live and train in the United States will understand that the Commonwealth Games came when athletes were just coming out of the indoor season,” he said.
Lynch defended the team, making special mention of Shane Brathwaite, who reached the final of the men’s sprint hurdles and the 4×100 relay team that went to the final.
“Shane managed to get into the final of the 110 hurdles, managing in the 13.5 second region and that is not bad for him considering the time of the year. Ramon Gittens ran 10.44 seconds and did not make it into the final but I know he can go faster later in the season.
“Then you have the 4×100 relay team. When the national record is 38.55 seconds and you can run 38.9 in the semi-finals and 39 seconds in the final, that team ran to form and that team was without Mario Burke. He couldn’t be there because of university obligations and then in recent times we have the drug issues with Levi Cadogan and he wasn’t there,” he said.
Lynch, who in 1974 became the first Barbadian to win the 100 metres for Under-20 boys at the CARIFTA Games, said that Barbados could have won a medal if the team was at full strength.
“We badly missed Akela Jones. If she was available, she could have challenged Levern Spencer in the high jump. If Mario and Levi were there, I really feel our 4×100 relay team would have medalled,” he added.
Straughn stands by his comments carried in last week’s Sunday Sun.
“Let the public be the judge. The results, or lack of, are there to see. People have got to stop making excuses. We came up short at the Commonwealth Games; our performances were not good enough.
“The argument about not having Akela and Mario and about the timing of the meet is not cutting it. We had a team, all of whom knew when the Games were scheduled. That is not an excuse when you are competing at the highest level.
“People have to take constructive criticism. We did not even come close to making an impact. We underperformed,” he added.
Barbados were one of the few Caribbean nations that struggled in Australia.
Jamaica got 26 medals, Trinidad and Tobago three, Bahamas four, Grenada two, Dominica two, while Guyana, St Lucia and Bermuda secured gold medals.
“You just don’t get medals, you have to earn them, and we have to look at our sports programme,” Straughn added.