Jul 25, 2020 Sports
By Sean Devers
Fifty-one-year-old National Athletics and Police Progressive Youth Club Head Coach Sergeant Lyndon Wilson made his debut as a National Coach in the 1997 inter-Guiana Games held in Guyana and made Police 400 Meter runner Winston George an Olympian at the 2012 London Olympics.
Wilson who was awarded the AAG’s Coach of year for three consecutive years from 2010, was a promising 200 and 400 Meter runner who also competed in the Long Jump.
However, due to a serious leg-injury in 1996, his Athletic career was all but over and although he competed in 1997 he quit competition.
Wilson now spends a lot of time talking to his Athletes, not only about the sport but also about what’s bothering them as Individuals at the end of training sessions so they won’t go through what he experienced as a teenager when was left out of National U-19 cricket team and failed to get any psychological help from the seniors at his club.
“I had the opportunity in Hungary to do a short stint Course on Society and Socialization. Society and peer pressure can make you become what you don’t want to become.
I love mentoring young people and seeing them grow, not only as athletes but as a person,” said Wilson.
“My first opportunity to Coach a Police Athletics team came in 1996 when I did my IAAF level 1 Coaching course and I thank Coach Kenrick Smith who was then the Police Athletics Coach.”
“I suffered an injury that would have put me out of Athletics for at least a year but I was around helping Coach Smith. He told me a Coaching Course was coming up and he wanted me to attend.
I thought that he wanted to end my athletics career but then I said to myself, at this age with this injury giving myself one more year to recover, will carry me into 1997. I decided to do the course since I would still be a part of Athletics.
I did the course in July 1996 and placed fifth and I could say that Coach Smith tricked me into Coaching because he was saying I was doing a fine job as I helped with the youngsters. But it’s due to him I am in the Coaching arena,” said Wilson.
Wilson began Coaching of the Police in 1996 when Police Coaches Kenrick Smith and Colin Boyce left to go to the Master’s Games in the USA in July when the annual Police Championships were held.
“They were scheduled to return during the first week in August and all was thrown at me, not only being the Coach, but the Administrator of the event.
I took it from there and even when they came back I remained Coach of the senior Athletes. Again I think I was tricked into it, since they knew they were leaving but would not have gotten to go if they did not find someone strong and good enough to run off the sports properly.
But I thank them for what they did. Without them I would not be what I am today,” stated Wilson who has been a coach for 24 years.
Wilson was selected to Coach team Guyana for 1997 the Inter-Guiana Games in Guyana.
“When I was selected as Head Coach there was lots of talk about me not having any experience and why was such a young person given the job of such a large team (28 persons 14 boys and 14 girls).
Even seasoned Coaches were talking, but Mr Blackmore, who was then the President of the AAG supported me.
I accepted and even Cornel Rose, who was saying I was too young for the job, provided advice as did Coaches Colin Boyce, Dennis Smith, Martin Stephenson and Leslie Black.
Guyana finished with the most Gold and Silver Medals. The 5,000 was the only track event in which Guyana did not win Gold and Silver; gaining Gold and Bronze.
The ‘Starter’ was ill on the final day and I did his duties. So I started as a Coach and finished as a ‘Starter’ and that was my first International Event as a Starter,” said Wilson.
Wilson, a level 3 Coach, said the biggest challenge for him as a Coach comes from the Administrators.
“They want the Athletes to do well but they are not putting in what they should for the Athletes to perform well. You would work hard to get the Athlete to that level but when it comes to getting the Athlete out there to compete, getting the right type of supplements, the right type of encouragement…yes they get that from their Coaches but the encouragement is not coming from that level poses a very difficult challenge for me and my athlete.
The other thing is that they don’t really see the sport putting us on the map, they are not coming down, not listening to the persons doing the ground level work, which are the coaches. They don’t seek advice and that creates a great challenge… sometimes you get frustrated.
But because you are working with youths who have a goal ahead you can’t give up on them because of what Administration is not doing, you have to continue working towards that goal,” Wilson continued.
His speciality is sprints and relays but when he did his first Course he was taught to be a broad base Coach so while his speciality is still sprints and relays, he also coaches Jumps (high, long & triple).
In the throws Wilson prefers the Discus because he likes to see it going like a flying saucer through the air.
“In 2005 I did a two-week middle and long distance Olympic Solidarity course in Brazil and I fell in love with middle and long distance training. Then in 2006 I did a three-month Course in General Athletics and Psychology in Hungary and finished fourth of 33 participants.
I love Coaching relay teams, that is where I gained my top marks in Hungary,” informed Wilson who is certified in strength and conditioning.
Wilson’s most memorable moment in Sports was the 2012 London Olympics.
“It was a dream come true for me. After my injury and I never making it big in Athletics, my dream was still to be at the Olympics, as a Manager, Coach or whatever area I could have get on the team as,” Wilson revealed.
That dream came true when Winston George qualified for the Olympics in 2011 at the Alba Games in Venezuela.
“It was memorable for me not only because I was there at the highest level or my dream came true but because of what happened before we got to those Games in Venezuela.
Winston and I had a plan that we stuck to and were able to execute. In the mornings when everybody was sleeping we would get into the car and go to Linden Highway and spend hours in that cold morning dew to make sure he perfected what we wanted.
The other thing is, Winston was selected to go to the South American Seniors while some other persons were picked for the Alba Games in Venezuela. However, they did not get to go to the South American Games due to financial problems.
The AAG President then was Colin Boyce who decided they would try to get them in the Alba Games which was a Government contracted Games among South American teams.
The late Hugh Denbow was Manager of that team and fought to get them in since this was their last opportunity to qualify for the Olympics,” informed Wilson.
George and the other two sprinters, who were in Jamaica training, eventually got into the Alba Games and George was able to get the ‘B’ qualifying time for the Olympics. The ‘B’ qualifying standard is accepted if a country does not meet the qualifying standard.
“I was only selected as Coach at the last minute. They had already picked Joe Ryan to go but GOA President K. Juman Yassin said it was only fitting that he put me on the team since they had one available space for an Official or Athlete but no other Athlete made the qualifying time,” informed the father of 21 children.
Wilson was selected Head Coach since George qualified from local based training and was Coached by the Policeman.
“Another thing we faced was that the Police sports was scheduled for the same time and the then Commissioner Leroy Brummell saw Boyce and my name on the list and said we were not allowed to travel at the same time. Boyce was the senior so I left on the Wednesday of Police Sports and Boyce left on the Saturday after Sports finished.
That made it more memorable since I was there to see my Athlete run and I was there to see my dream come true,” said Wilson, who spoke about his experience at the Olympics.
“When it comes to our preparation, we were at minus zero. Those athletes are on another level.
Their professionalism is so different from our athletes. Even when dealing with Jeremy Bascom and Aliann Pompey, the two America-based athletes, they were so different, they knew the things they had to eat, the right supplements…their approach was just at another level,” Wilson noted.
Wilson feels the National Athletics Stadium needs to be better managed if it is to become a true International venue.
“We need a warm-up area which will make us a more International venue and we would get more Athletics coming to Guyana. I think the Management of the Stadium …. not the Manager…. the Management…. which includes all the workers, lack the understanding what the Stadium is really there for. Some are there only because they are earning a salary.
No track remains perfect throughout its lifetime; you have to work on it to take care of it.
There is need for a lot more equipment there, special rakes and brooms used to clear around the jumping pits. The wrong brooms can damage the rubber and more competition there will help in the maintenance and will also generate revenue to maintain the Stadium. When a facility is not frequently used it gets old quicker.
The Manager there, Mr Williams, is doing a good job in shuffling the dates for Athletics and Football, but those around him like the caretaker need to show more interest.
In the mornings there are several dogs there and when they defecate they would scratch on the track, while the biggest problem is the washrooms facilities.
We don’t have 10,000 people but five minutes after an event you go to the washrooms; pipes not working, urine bowls overflowing, toilets not flushing, so there are a lot of things that can be done to improve the Stadium.
If you have people supervising the venue a lot of those discrepancies will be avoided,” Wilson added.
“The postponement of CARIFTA 2020 is very disappointing since there were a lot of young Athletes for this CARIFTA.
After seeing what was done in the past two or three years in terms of Medal hauls in CARIFTA, we keep climbing the ladder and are moving from getting four or five to eight and nine medals and will soon get double figures.
For me, I think Police could have had four persons on that team and out of so many clubs to get four out a possible 20-member team would have been glorious.
Some of the Athletes on their last year could lose out, but I have been hearing that the Athletic Association is trying to see if they can modify the 2021 format to allow those persons who are in their last year to still compete.
In 2021, instead of saying U-18 and U-20 we can say U-20 and stick in U-18s or Youths and Juniors and stick in some U-21 events which will make every team larger.
I am disappointed to see those Athletes were so pumped up and rearing to go. We saw then in the couple trials leading up to CARIFTA pushing it.
We did not have much qualifiers up to the point of COVID-19, but you were seeing Athletes peaking at the right time. Too many times we saw Athletes peaking just for the trials, which means they still have three weeks for the competition.
This year I felt Athletes would peak at the last trial and then taper into the real competition since you had a three-week window period where they would have been upping their performance and not being burnt out.
By this I mean, many Athletes get to CARFITA burnt out because of the effort they put in to qualify.
This year the Coaches and the AAG took a different stand and worked the Athletes into CARIFTA, not only thinking about the Trials to make the team and that is what made it so disappointing for everyone,” said Wilson.
Wilson said the COVID-19 and the Curfew could be a blessing in disguise. While it has affected his Coaching due to the Social distancing rule, it has forced families to spend more time together and brought out several skills that some never even knew they had.
Wilson says commitment, support, family discussions and love for what he does are the reasons he can successfully function as a Coach, Trainer, Sports Administrator and cricket scorer, while still finding time for his family.
“The Administration of the Guyana Police Force from 1987 to now provides me with the time to do whatever I am doing in the Sporting area and I am thankful to them and to everyone else who have helped me,” Coach Wilson stated.
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