By Edison Jefford
Guyana’s overseas-based Olympic hopefuls have made auspicious starts to the 2017 Season, but to continue their ascendancy and journey to the 2020 Olympic Games in Osaka, Japan, like many of the local prospects, they need help from the major stakeholders.
Athletics is a definite medal contender for the next Olympic Games, but how the Government of Guyana, Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and by extension Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) handle the prospective athletes will determine the result.
Already, there is a core group to work with based on performances in January and there will be a sub-group of younger talent who can perhaps qualify under the ‘B’ standards. However, Guyana can be assured of ‘A’ standards from some senior prospects.
Double Commonwealth Games medalist, Aliann Pompey, who has been keeping her fingers on the pulse of the Guyanese performances overseas, is also very optimistic about Guyana entering a very strong field in Japan.
“In the first month of the year, athletes put up some solid performances. A number of athletes in the USA college system have wasted no time making their mark,” Pompey said. She believes the country is poised for athletics excellence, but there is a ‘but’.
Guyana has always had the talent to succeed internationally, but the stakeholders named earlier have all contributed to the failure of athletes in the past. Athletes need major financial support to succeed, which places the spotlight on the main stakeholders in the run up to Osaka. Before there will be two IAAF World Championships with one scheduled in August this year and another two years later.
As I had pointed out in a previous article, Chief Executive Officer of UK Sports, Liz Nicholl told the media last year that one Olympic medal cost Britain $4.1 million pound sterling; the question is therefore, how much is Guyana prepared to spend to get an Olympic medal? The cost could be different for Guyana, but the point is there is a cost attached to performance.
Guyana only has one Olympic medal, a bronze from the gloves of Michael Parris in 1980. From a similar position, The UK spent its way to second place on the overall medals list in the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, topping some superpowers in sport.
“I’d like to point out that we have enough female quarter-milers to invest in a women’s 4x400m relay (team) that can make a mark on the world scene. Aside from those athletes abroad, we have Alita Moore and Avon Samuels at home who can contribute tremendously,” Pompey indicated.
“Winston George, Jason Yaw, Stephan James, Joel Johnson and Earl Lucas can run qualifying times as well,” an optimistic Pompey continued. Moore, Samuels and Yaw are based in Guyana and can run ‘B’ qualifying times, at least, if harnessed correctly.
Moore runs the 100m, 200m and 400m, while Samuels and Yaw are 400m specialists. Like the overseas-based athletes, they will need every bit of financial support to get to Osaka. Those who are in administration have to make the financial decisions.
The US-based Aliyah Abrams has run a season-best time of 53.46 in the 400m at the Vanderbilt Invitational. Iana Amsterdam, competing for Clemson University also in the US, has leaped to a 12.97m best in the triple jump. Abrams is ranked 10th and Amsterdam 15th on the NCAA list.
Brenessa Thompson, attending Texas A & M University ran 7.41 seconds and 23.89 in the 60m and 20m respectively. Kadecia Baird, also competing for Texas A & M University, has run 24.00 and 54.13 in the 200m and 400m in January.
James attends Mississippi State University and has run 47.23 in the 400m so far this season, and is ranked 14thamong NCAA Division I athletes. Then there is Troy Doris, who finished seventh in the Triple Jump Final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Natricia Hooper has recorded a time of 56.75 in the 400m and 12.74 in the triple jump in her first Season competing for Essex Community College, indoors. Andrea Foster also attends Essex, but has not yet competed this indoor season in an individual event.
Jeremy Bascom, George, Johnson and Lucas were expected to team up to run the 4x200metre at the Armory Track Invitational yesterday. George left Guyana last week for another training stint in the United States of America.
Guyana’s talented athletes will continue to put in the work, but that additional support, which has been lacking in the pass to ensure they develop to the next level, is needed now to propel Guyana to the podium on the biggest stage over the next three years.
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