The views expressed here are solely that of the writer and
doesn’t reflect or endorse anyone or organisations.

by Michael Bascombe
The response to my recent commentary “A New Approach Is Needed” has
been overwhelming and encouraging especially from the likes of Messrs Denis
Noel, Nicholas Earle Brathwaite, George “Goatie” Robinson, among others. However,
the intention was to bring awareness to the collective approach needed for our
athletes to succeed.
I am happy to report that both public and private sectors are on board
and a work plan is expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks. However, I
want to caution against any repeat of the Alleyne Francique debacle in 2004. Mr
Francique is yet to receive a cent from the organisers of this public charade.
But how could one fathom the thought that the Grenada National Lottery
Authority would not be among the list of potential sponsors expressing an
interest to support the Olympic campaign? Let’s hope for the better!
So, now that our relay teams have created a momentum for our prospects
at the IAAF World Championships later this year and the Olympic Games in 2012,
the question is what happens from now.
I want to wish our female athletes all the best but they have a lot of
work to do if they are to make an impact and stir the interest of local fans.
Individually, they are talented and one will hope that they too can share in
the spotlight.
We must not lose sight of the fact that Grenada has two world class
athletes and who, given the right conditions, could medal at the World
Championships and Olympics. However, the Penn Relays also exposed a bright
prospect in Kemon Herry. This was the MacDonald College athlete’s first taste
of international competition and he didn’t disappoint.
The disappointment is with the other athletes, some of who are on
Olympic Solidarity Programme, and either not training or injured. There are
three athletes who have run “quality” times within the last three years – Kevin
Bowen ran a personal best of 45.92 seconds last May, and both Joel Phillip and
Joel Redhead recorded personal best of 45.29 and 46.29 seconds respectively in
2008.
A similar situation exists among the women.
The Grenada Olympic Committee must now get tough with some of the
beneficiaries of the programme and demand better results. For those who are not
aware, thousands of dollars are spent on these athletes to ensure that they
receive specialised training as well as stipends and other related costs
including travel to participate in competitions.
Suggestions for
consideration
We have some very humbled track and field coaches in Grenada and their
true potential have not been tested. The list includes but not limited to
Albert Joseph, Wayne McSween, Kerlon Peters, Bruce Swan, Denise Williams,
Conrad Francis and the bunch of Cuban-trained coaches. The same can be said for
other sports like basketball, cricket, football, netball, swimming, and tennis.
The Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Sports and the Grenada Olympic
Committee need to enhance the talent identification programme and provide these
local sportsmen and women with specialised training at home.
For track and field, Kemon Herry, Josh Charles, Divon St Paul, Che Mason
and the rest of our top junior male and female athletes should be involved in a
training programme at home in preparation for competition including the Hampton
International Games in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago on May 20. The few
names listed above are as talented as and probably more committed than some of
the athletes who are on the Olympic Solidarity Programme.
While the focus and attention have been on the exploits of the relay
teams, let’s not lose sight of the individual pursuits of some of these
athletes as well as the likes of Randy Lewis, Colleen Felix and Patricia
Sylvester in the jumps and Kurt Felix in the multiple events.
Alleyne Francique
What’s about Alleyne Francique and the role he can play in assisting
some of our athletes? Francique is a retired athlete who is now an assistant
coach at Texas A&M University and has already won national collegiate championships
in the United States. His personal best and national record set in 2004 stands
at 44.47 seconds. He is also the 400m two-time world indoor champion in 2004
and 2006 – only the second person to successfully defend that title.
Francique received the Order of the British Empire medal and named an
Ambassador for Sport for his achievement in the sport. This speaks well for a
humble individual who has made a valuable contribution to sports in Grenada. It
is only fitting that we utilise his experience at the international level.
The College Station-based coach has offered his services to assist
some of the US-based athletes and this opportunity must not be missed.
In conclusion, there appears to be some movement with the annual Inter
Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships and come next year we could see an
overhaul of the most prestigious local track and field championships. A recent
meeting involving the various stakeholders including the Ministry of Youth Empowerment
and Sports and the Secondary Schools’ Principals discussed the management and possible
expansion of the championships and infrastructure development.
It is about time and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Sports must
be commended for taking immediate action!

 
0 comments
 
 
%d bloggers like this: