By Zaheer Mohamed
Swim Coach Paul Mahaica feels that Guyana must invest in their athletes if they are to excel at higher levels. Guyana failed to medal at the 2019 Pan American games which were held in Lima, Peru.
Daniel Scott and Nikita Fiedtkou represented Guyana in swimming at the games.
Speaking with Kaieteur Sport yesterday, Mahaica who accompanied the duo, said that despite the cold conditions which they are not accustomed to, the athletes improved as they games progressed. “The conditions were very cold and this served as a disadvantage for our athletes,” he added.
Scott competed in the 400m, 200m and 100m freestyle events, while Fiedtkou took part in the 100m and 50m free style.
Mahaica stated that the competition was of a very high standard and Guyana must invest in their athletes for them to excel at such championships. “To medal we have to work hard, but gone are the days when talent alone was enough to win a title. These days, with the advent of technology, athletes have to be encamped; they need the right supplements as well, but if there is no sponsorship how can their skills be honed properly.”
Mahaica said technology plays a big role and if they do not get the finance to support the athletes, they will not be going anywhere in a hurry.
“Take a look at the USA for instance, how much they would invest in one athlete in order for them to succeed, we need to send our athletes to camps. Other countries at the games ensured that their athletes were well prepared, and they have the necessary support to do so.”
The coach explained that one of the problems affecting athletes here is that there is little scope for them after competing at the school level. One name that comes to mind is former national schools 100m champion Compton Caesar of Upper Demerara who also won 100m at the 42nd South American U20 championship which was held at Leonora in 2017. Brazil’s Paulo Andre De Oliveira, who took the silver medal at the 100m at Lima 2019, took the runner up spot in 2017 at Leonora. After dominating the track at the junior level here, little is also being herd of athletes such as Tevin Garraway, Carifta games gold medalists Cassey George, Kevin Abbensetts and Jason Yaw.
Mahaica explained that when these athletes attain a certain age they often left the sport to study or work. “We loose our athletes at an early age and nothing is being done to keep them in the sport, not even a scholarship at the University of Guyana, so what usually happens is that we always have smaller athletes representing us which makes it even harder to medal,” he posited.
He noted that the business community can play an important role in assisting the athletes.
In an invited comment, Fiedtkou said competing at the Pan Am games was a wonderful experience. “The condition there was different and challenging, the competition was of a very high standard, however, I managed to do new personal best times in each of my event. I am looking forward to continue training and hope to do better at my next competition.”
In many other countries athletes are being paid handsomely so they can focus more on the sport they are involved in and can train for longer periods, here they have to work and then train which is difficult when competing at higher levels.
Cricket is the only sport here where players are being paid to train. And once they are being given contracts at the academy the scope is there for them to move up the ladder. Guyana is the only country to win the CWI Regional four-day championship so far with five titles. As a result, the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Anthony Bramble and Sherfane Rutherford have emerged.
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