Nov 25, 2008 Letters
As soon as the sport walk race is mentioned, the name Rudy Mitchell automatically pops up. Rudy has been the supreme commander of this race since from whence his winning streak started, with eighty consecutive wins to date!!
A remarkable feat unmatched by any other and unprecedented in any other discipline, a very impressive and audacious track record indeed, and has his mind set on reaching the milestone of 100.
Not since the days of Harry Mervin, another Lindener, the sensational walking machine who dominated this sport and departed unbeaten, has anyone been so consistent and domineering.
This diminutive athlete has stomped his authority with aplomb in blazing performances of sheer grit and determination across the length and breadth and every corner of this country that walk race is held, quietly taking on and defeating seasoned and new challengers alike, driven by the desire to achieve his objective, 100 straight wins.
Rudy, who was in the Militia, started walking for the Joint Services, and after being victorious in a number of races, set himself the task of reaching 50 unbeaten. Having accomplished that, his aim now is to reach the landmark of 100 straight wins.
But though this phlegmatic athlete has already carved out his name in this sport, with a stubborn record of 80 consecutive wins, he is yet to receive the recognition and laurels accorded other equally successful athletes.
Maybe, because walk racing in this country in the past and even now has never been a popular sport, is one such reason that it has not till today seen and treated with equal importance or given the accreditation as other sports, as is done internationally.
Thus Rudy Mitchell remains in the penumbra of the sporting arena in spite of his consistent and unmatched performances.
And this soft spoken reserved Linden athlete is not at all happy. He feels cheated and hurt that for all his efforts, years spent (approximately 25 years) dedication and successes he is treated in a shabby way.
He speaks of having to cover his expenses and all else every time he has to travel out of Linden for a race.
Apart from trophies and tokens, he has never received anything substantial from anyone/organisation, was never chosen to compete in a single walk race beyond these shores, even though this event is held at an international level in the Caribbean sometimes (one was recently held in Barbados).
But Rudy is also a family man – 46 years old, who has no easy task in sustaining self and family. His main source of income is from a karaoke machine which he operates on certain nights at entertainment spots/clubs.
The money he earns is far from adequate, but he has to cut and contrive. As all athletes know, preparation is the key to success and preparation equals money!
It is no secret that many athletes have spent large sums of money in preparation, with returns that are far below the cost, while others don’t even get back anything at all!
But what of his home town Linden, his own people? Has he been give the acceptance and recognition he richly deserves?
Not quite, there isn’t much of a difference, they see him and they don’t see him; definitely this sport is struggling to make a respectable break through on the local scene.
Though he is well known, the reception he receives is luke-warm. Similarly, not a single athletic/sport organisation has ever come forward to publicly credit him or extend any form of assistance. Well if not home, then to where else must this brother turn his head?
Mr. Editor, I need to repeat the question that has become monotonous. How can we treat our athletes, or should I say some of our athletes so mean? What sort of inspiration and encouragement is there for our athletes who would want to emulate Rudy? Can he speak to them with pride, a sense of good feeling and achievement? How must they measure him?
Mr. Editor, by way of this letter I’m making an appeal to the Director of Sport, the Guyana Athletic Association, other sporting organisations and sporting bodies and members of the business community of Linden, to play some sort of meaningful role, make a worthy contribution towards our king of walk race so that we along with him reach that milestone of 100 consecutive victories.
This brother is deserving of quality assistance and recognition which he has merited. And after 20 odd years of being competitive and at age 46 with eyes set on achieving 100 straight wins (20 more events to go), he certainly has an uphill battle since he will be hard pressed to stave off a string of younger and stronger contenders, determine to spike his winning streak and murder his dream. Will the king be dethroned? Time, only time will tell.
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