Media needs to act fearlessly to rid Sport of shameless officials
By Rawle Welch
Shortly after watching the conclusion of the Women’s Olympic 100 metres final where Jamaican and defending champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce successfully retained her crown, a fellow employee, who was in the midst of a group of us viewing the race blurted out that Guyana’s best chance of winning a gold medal in the foreseeable future could only come from among the consistent assembly of officials that usually attend the Games.
This humorous claim must have been induced after watching the pathetic performances recorded by Guyana’s representatives, who should not be blamed for the dismal showing, but rather the Government and the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA), the two institutions that failed to provide the kind of support needed for them to perform satisfactorily at the elite level.
The top representatives of these two important institutions have so far displayed an inability to understand the kind of substantial support that is required for an athlete to win a medal at the elite competitions in sport or even recognize the important role sport can play in giving a country global recognition.
The host country of the 2012 Summer Olympics (Britain) since it won the bid to stage the Games immediately set about preparing its athletes to perform at their optimum for the big occasion and this was done through the infusion of millions of pounds to cover every aspect of their preparations through the provision of top flight coaches, ensuring that they competed regularly at most of the elite competitions as well as providing all the other related support personnel to guarantee success and as we all know they have done so.
The Host Nation, though it was predicted that they will do well at home, have exceeded all expectations and this is simply because of the thorough preparations that their athletes were afforded which has evidently been manifested in the exceptional results to date.
Having athletes such as Winston George attend a training camp in Jamaica will not suffice unless he is consistently exposed to a higher level of competition and not remain restricted to low tier Meets at home.
Imagine, South African Oscar ‘blade runner’ Pistorius registered a faster time than George, while apart from the experienced middle distance athlete Aliann Pompey, who made it to the semi-finals of the 400 metres, sprinter Jeremy Bascom, swimmers Niall Roberts and Britany Van Lange and judoka Raul Lall, all looked out of sorts in their respective competitions.
All Guyanese should be disgusted and utterly dismayed that we haven’t been able to win another Olympic medal since boxer Michael Parris won a bronze at the 1980 Moscow Games, making it 32 years to date since we haven’t won another, while many of our small Caribbean counterparts have done so with home bred athletes.
When Grenada’s 19 year-old sensation Kirani James won his country’s first ever Olympic medal on Sunday, a gold, the 214 square miles island situated in the Caribbean Sea must have erupted with wild celebration, understandably so since its native son had predominantly honed his skill at home, except for a couple of years at the University of Alabama in the USA.
His prodigious talent was evident from an early age and it was augmented with support from the Government and the Athletic Association of the country, but in Guyana even when talent is spotted, the much needed support mechanisms are usually missing.
It is patently clear that the current crop of Sport Officials are either devoid of initiatives or even lack motivation to fast track the development of sports.
Many within the sports fraternity have even advocated that some officials are just intent on holding on to the reins of office for personal gains.
The society in which we live has condoned such practices where someone could hold office for 15 to 20 years with little or no positive results, but still shamelessly cling to power at the expense of many athletes whose careers are destroyed due to their selfish acts.
It is disgracefully mind boggling that officials could cleave to power for many years without one example of success, deceiving an entire nation in the process through the blame game.
The Government of Guyana and the GOA have failed our athletes’ aspirations to become worthy Olympians by their lack of a strategic plan to develop sports in an organized manner, while the nonappearance of the ‘National Sports Policy’ after several promises of its release is ample evidence of the lack of seriousness on the Government’s part.
The next Olympics will be held in neighbouring Brazil and just as this nation is experiencing a new dispensation in Parliament, strong actions should be taken to ensure that over the next four years as we prepare our athletes to participate at the Games, we do so without the company of many of those officials whose record of achievement is abysmal.
It is time for serious stakeholders to demand change and bring pressure on those who believe it is their right to continue to embarrass this nation.
It will require a fearless act from the media, while the corporate community and the athletes have to play their part.
It is time we start thinking about how proud we would feel as a nation if one of our Olympians duplicate the performance of Usain Bolt, Fraser-Pryce and James and be interviewed by the top broadcasting networks of this world.
What a day that will be to be Guyanese.