Feb 19, 2012 Sports
By Michael Benjamin
As the 2012 London Olympic looms, Guyanese sports ambassadors are getting ready to represent their country at undoubtedly the most prestigious international sports forum. While every Guyanese would wish to line the route and welcome home those that would have procured phenomenal accolades, the reality is, when the games would have concluded, no realistic person would actually believe that one or more of our representatives would procure any medal at the games be it bronze, silver or gold.
Imran ‘Magic’ Khan has been touted as the man to do the job. The executives of the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA) have placed great faith in this young pugilist and over the past year have invested in his development. He departed Guyana yesterday morning for Cardiff Wales where he is scheduled to undergo a specially arranged 3 weeks training stint under the auspices of the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA). This initiative is a crucial aspect of his preparations for the imminent London Olympics scheduled for that city in August this year.
Boxing has always been touted as the discipline to bring Guyana world acclaim and the fact that boxing icon, Michael Parris’ bronze medal achievement at the 1980 Moscow Olympics is still to be eclipsed or even emulated, bears strong testimony to this fact. One is left to conduct comparative analysis, juxtapose the strategies and systems of yesteryear and determine whether it might be a good idea to resort to those initiatives to procure similar or even better results.
Boxing pundits would reminisce with a tinge of nostalgia of the glory days of amateur boxing under the presidency of the late Brinsley Lewis (BL) Crombie.
During those days and subsequent ones we have seen dedicated administrators that sacrificed time and personal resources towards the boxers’ development and welfare. Nowadays, we fail to employ the initiatives and requisite funding yet we expect to obtain similar results as of our glory days.
The advent of the internet and new media technology has opened our eyes to the many sacrifices and innovations of the developed countries towards the procurement of illustrious achievements of their respective sportspeople. One thing is certain, these administrators are aware of the stiff rivalry at international tournaments; they are also cognizant of the requirements and prerequisites necessary for participation and a realistic chance of procuring top honours hence their strategic input.
For far too long Guyanese have had to contend with quantitative contingents that lack the necessary quality to compete among the other countries yet attend these games knowing that their chances are on par with a snowball in hell. The test of our seriousness regarding the acquisition of meaningful sports accolades may very well reside in an evaluation of the input as against the output. Common sense dictates that uneaten oats fetch a higher price that that processed through the animal’s intestines; one could obtain the latter for free but must contend with the absence of nutritional value.
Likewise, the situation in local sports could be juxtaposed with that analogy and offers an explanation of the poor results of our national teams attending major international meets.
We have seen real patriotism and unmitigated support when the Reggae Boys, Jamaica’s national football team, qualified for the World Cup in 1998. Their preparation was tantamount to a national event and the corporate community in Jamaica pitched in with adequate funding to
offset the huge financial expenditure of the team.
One needs only to peruse the course taken by Jamaican world renowned sprinter, Usain Bolt to appreciate the years of sacrifice and dedication that eventually produced a mean athletic machine that is now conquering all and sundry. The benefits derived from such accomplishments are many and Bolt can now return to his homeland and invest valuable foreign currency into that economy while providing jobs with his newly acquired wealth.
Locally, journalists are summoned to events where business entities donate towards the development of our sports personnel. Most times they are given piecemeal tokens that could hardly address their travelling, much less training requirements.
This is not lashing out at the business community but to say the time is ripe to integrate their contributions with adequate tax relief that will enable them to give generously. There must be adequate tax remittances that would make a business person’s contribution a delightful and worthwhile gesture. Maybe, government officials could jump in at this juncture and explain their role in such an arrangement.
The onus rests on each and every Guyanese to agitate for better treatment of our sportspeople as currently, what passes as benevolence is merely a piecemeal gesture that boils down to naught and can fittingly be construed as miniscule.
In the case of Imran Khan, one is extremely pleased by the opportunities afforded in the run up to his participation at the London Olympics. However, such preparation can hardly be juxtaposed to what is required in the preparatory stage for international engagements.
Those in the know, in the intricacies of the sport, would not be as optimistic of Khan’s success at the Olympics especially when one peruses the type of opposition and their preparations for the auspicious event. It would be cruel to say that our Olympics representative does not stand a chance at the prestigious games but the truth has to be told; there were tremendous lapses in his preparation.
In the meantime, there are quite a few young budding amateur boxers, Khan included, that can be nurtured for future international games. One can bet that attention for their welfare and development will be postponed until the thirteenth hour. Until such faux pas receives adequate attention Guyanese can continue dreaming even as we partake of oats after it has passed through the animal’s body.
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