GUYANA AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Guyana’s quest for Olympic glory continues this week. Fingers are being crossed and hands clasped in prayer hoping that somehow Guyana’s athletes will be able to salvage some consolation by bringing hope with at least one medal.
If the team does not achieve this, it will not be the first time that an Olympic team representing Guyana has failed to win a medal. Far larger delegations than the one now representing Guyana have failed to do so in the past.
Guyana has only one Olympic medal and it was a Bronze one achieved a very, very long time ago. So Guyana does not have an impressive Olympic record and is not likely this year to better our 1980 performance.
Guyana must look towards the future and towards new disciplines if we are ever going to win a medal. For years we have tried with our track and field athletes, cyclists and with our boxers. They did not bring Olympic glory.
This time, there are some new disciplines represented. As in Beijing, we have sent a small swimming team. A judo athlete is also representing us in London.
We should look at new disciplines for the next Olympics which will be held in Brazil. Preparation for those Olympics and the next one will have to begin right away if Guyana is serious about winning medals.
Participation in Olympics is now no longer just about going for the experience. That luxury no longer exists even though the organizers do arrange for “wildcard” entries for some countries. Other than gaining a wild card entry, qualification now requires that some standard be met. Only those that have met a certain qualifying standard through the times they have recorded or through their performance in certain competitions, are allowed entry. There are therefore very few “free riders” in the Olympic Games.
The days when we could say that we were sending our athletes for the Olympic experience are over. You make the grade, get a wildcard entry or stay home.
This means that by the time Guyana’s delegation to London 2012 deplanes home later this month, the various national sporting associations should be identifying prospects for Brazil 2016. Those athletes have to begin the rigorous preparation for Olympic qualification immediately if they are not already in preparation.
A shortlist of eligible athletes has to be made out and intense preparation has to begin. Unless these athletes are exposed to an intense regimen of training, they are simply not going to be ready for 2016 or for that matter even 2020.
There are some good prospects in boxing, one of whom unfortunately lost in a box off just before the London games. These boxers must be sent overseas to help them with their preparation.
Local swimmers now have an Olympic-sized pool and a new crop of young swimmers should be identified and placed in training for future Olympics.
Even though a synthetic track is being developed for our track and field athletes, local training is not going to produce an Olympic champion for Guyana. We have some good athletes including a young lad from the hinterland who has shown great promise in long-distance running. But unless these local runners are sent overseas for training they are never going to enjoy any great success.
As such plans should be put in train to find athletic scholarships in the United States for some of our promising athletes. There is no way that they can continue to train in Guyana, even with an all-weather synthetic track and hope to make Olympic standard.
The other countries of the world are too far ahead and we cannot catch up in time. We have to send our athletes abroad for training. This is the only way we will produce Olympic track and field champions.
There are, of course, some events which if we work hard at we can make the grade. Among the list is judo. Then there is wrestling. Another one where hopefully we can encourage more participation is beach volleyball. This is an exiting sport that is likely to create a great deal of interest. We can also hope to look at Equestrian riding and fencing.
We should also be able to do well in rifle shooting, an event at which we were previously represented in international competitions. Guyana should also consider beginning to train people in archery.
We have a better chance of producing a champion in these events than in the ones that we are presently concentrating on because many nations do not pay much attention on these less popular disciplines.
Guyana has to be smart about how it plans to approach future Olympic Games. It has to see where it has the best chance and try to maximize these opportunities.
Otherwise we will have to live with the fact that for many, many years to come we may still not be able to better our present record of one Olympic medal.