– we are hoping that this will be the start of the careers of a lot of our young athletes – Yassin
By Franklin Wilson
A 30-member strong contingent of athletes and officials will leave these shores next Tuesday to represent Guyana in 7 of 17 disciplines at the inaugural South American Youth Games (SAYG) slated for Lima, Peru, September 9 – 29.
Guyana Olympic Association President, (GOA) K. A Juman Yassin, Chef-de-Mission Dr. Karen Pilgrim and five of the seven Coaches/Managers met with the media at Olympic House yesterday to give a brief on preparations to date.
President Yassin reminded that funding for this trip is being borne by the GOA which will also provide track suits, shirts including polo as well as haversacks. The organisers of the event donated 16 Air Tickets for the Guyana team.
“We are hoping that this will be a start of the careers of a lot of our young athletes, this may the road to Rio for some of them if not, this should be the road to Tokyo for most of them.”
Athletics Coach Julian Edmonds, while stating that his charges will be ready to take on their peers, complimented the GOA for affording the athletes much need time to get acclimatized to conditions that the athletes are not accustomed to.
“We’ll have about five to six training sessions and from all indications the weather is going to be a bit cold so we will have time to acclimatize and to give of their best. All of these athletes are in good shape, three of them competed at the just concluded Boyce/Jefford championship and they are currently preparing for the school championships in November.”
Weightlifting Coach Sean Cozier informed that his athletes have been hard at training, Sheriah Melville, who will compete in the Over 63kg category, was scheduled to return to Guyana last evening from the Pan American Youth Championships held in Cancun, Mexico.
President Yassin noted that weightlifting has been on the decline for sometime but is urging all involved to encourage more persons to become involved in the sport. Guyana Amateur Weightlifting Association Secretary, Deion Nurse, had stated sometime ago that they will be focusing on youth development.
“We need to encourage more lifters, powerlifting seems to be surging and going ahead but weightlifting is an Olympic sport and is more technically advanced and for the three member team, two are females, so we need all of us, try to encourage persons to get into the sport.”
Dr. Pilgrim, who spoke on behalf of the swimming team, informed that Onika George is the most experienced member and is the only local swimmer to have qualified for the Carifta Games. The other two athletes, Hannibal Gaskin and Omar Adams recently returned from the Goodwill Swimming championships in Barbados where Gaskin won bronze in the 200m Freestyle.
“All of them I think will certainly do at least personal best times and I believe they will try to bring back a medal or two.”
Boxing Coach Sheridan Thomas said that of the four boxers, two have international experience, Travis Fraser who will be seeking to best his opponents in the 69kg class and Joel Williamson who’ll match gloves in the 56kg category.
“Right now we are winding down training at the Andrew ‘Six Head’ Lewis Gym along with the Cuban Coach. We know they are physically fit; we’re looking at getting them prepared for international competition, Olympic style boxing, so I’m satisfied with how they are coming along and I know we will get good results.”
Howard informed that the cycling team is a well oiled unit with Akeem Arthur medaling at the recently concluded Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships; Shaquel Agard also competed at these championships.
The two are the most experienced of the five-member team, this will be the first time that Guyana will be sending mountain bike riders to compete overseas, the two are Stepano Husbands and Alonzo Ambrose; Crystal Lambert is the lone female of the group who will make her international debut.
“It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their talent and ability, the fact that they will get time to acclimatize is a plus for them and we applaud the GOA for making this a reality. We hope that they will give a good account of themselves. This is also an opportunity for them to match their skills and capabilities against those within our hemisphere.”
Yassin took the opportunity to remind the media that the sport of Boxing is the only one that has brought an Olympic medal to these shores, but believes that there needs to be a concerted effort by all concerned so that our boxers can really be exposed.
“I know this month the boxing had applied for funding to the National Sports Commission to send a team to Chile, unfortunately that didn’t come through and the team was not able to go. The reason I mentioned this, is that every opportunity we get, our boxers and other athletes should be exposed.”
The GOA head noted that when you look at the boxers who would have won medals at the Commonwealth and Olympic games, they would have been fighting over 100 and 200 amateur fights. “And so, unless we get them involved and exposed we would not be doing them good. So when they go and they are not successful, well, there’s a reason why.”
The opening ceremony for the 1SAYG will be held on September 20, Boxing is slated for the 21st to 25th, Cycling 21 – 26, Badminton 24th, Swimming 21 – 26, Athletics and Weightlifting 27 – 29 and Table Tennis 27 – 28.
The other countries participating are Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and hosts, Peru.
Meanwhile, Yassin also reported that works on the GOA Headquarters has been progressing and they are about to move to the second phase. To date he said that they have expended about 60 MILLION Guyana dollars.
The GOA will also be assisting the Guyana Rugby Union with funding to have Mr. Spencer Robinson assist the union in its quest to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
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