Kaieteur News – According to one source, Guyana failed to secure a medal at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games. This has to be a major disappointment considering the number of athletes (32) and the performance of other Caribbean nations at the Games.
In contrast, Jamaica left the Games with 16 medals, including 6 Gold and 6 Silver Medals. Small Barbados, not known as an athletic powerhouse secured 3 medals. Trinidad and Tobago got six medals including three gold medals. Bermuda, Dominica and St Lucia all had better outcomes than Guyana.
India is emerging as an athletic force. It obtained 61 medals including 22 Gold medals in Birmingham. Even though this was five less than what was obtained in 2018, given the level of competition, with Australia and the UK creaming off most of the medals, it was an impressive achievement.
Guyana has tasted limited success at the Commonwealth Games. A boxer, Winfield Braithwaite had won the first Commonwealth gold medal for Guyana since its Independence. That was in 1978, 44 years ago. Guyana James Wren Gilkes had won gold at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico. He also secured a silver medal in the 200 metres in 1978. June Marcia Griffith had secured a Silver Medal in the 400 metres at the 1979 Pan American Games.
By now Guyana should have been doing much better at the Commonwealth Games since it is a good preparation for the other more premier championships such as the Pan American Games, the World Championships and the Olympics. This year new world records were set in the women’s long jump, the 4×200 metre freestyle swimming, in power lifting and in the women’s discus. The Commonwealth Games is therefore a good gauge as to whether our athletes can hold their own on the international stage.
For too long, Guyana has been sending athletes to these and other Games in order to gain experience. That experience is not reflected in the subsequent performance of athletes.
It is therefore time for the respective associations to rethink the qualifying standards which are set for participation in these and other Games. Unless the respective associations are of the firm conviction that medals are assured, we should not be sending any representatives who are not expected to medal.
The government should also rethink its support for sending so many athletes to come back empty-handed. The same resources can be pumped into bringing teams from Cuba and India for Goodwill Games with our athletes.
The Sports Ministry should be working with the Indian High Commissioner and the Cuban Ambassador to bring Indian and Cuban athletes here to compete with local athletes so as to help to raise the standards of sport by providing regular competition. We can bring athletes here to compete with our locals
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has been going around the country installing basketball hoops, giving monies to upgrade sports grounds and sharing out sporting equipment. It is also looking to launch an elite training programme in Guyana.
It is an exercise in futility. Those investments are not going to yield results. The support provided to community grounds overlooks what happens afterwards. You can spend millions of dollars upgrading a facility and what happens in four to five years’ time when more monies are needed to maintain the very works which were done.
The programme being undertaken by the Ministry is simply not sustainable. It should not be going around the country doling out support when the grounds themselves and the clubs which operate on them do not have a model to sustain the development of the facilities.
The government appears to want to launch an elite coaching programme to bring our athletes up to international standard. It is looking to the Commonwealth for support in this regard.
The government’s priorities are lopsided. What about our local coaches? The Ministry should let the nation know how much they are paying our national coaches who are the ones that have to groom our young athletes in their formative years. Tell the nation how much money a national coach is receiving.
The pappy show of walking around giving out monies and sports equipment to a handful of clubs should end. This may be good for boosting popularity but is certainly not going to take sport anywhere further.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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