A Big Boost For OECS Women Sport
March 5, 2024
A Big Boost For OECS Women Sport

Women sport in the Eastern Caribbean and women in general have been given a massive boost by two young women from the islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia. Last Saturday March 2, 22-year-old Julien Alfred of St Lucia took gold in the women’s 60 meters sprint at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. One day later, 29-year-old Thea Lafond of Dominica joined her on the winners podium, giving Dominica its first-ever gold medal by winning the Women’s triple jump.

Interestingly, there could not be a more opportune time for women in these islands to shine on the world stage.

On Friday of this week, women the world over will celebrate International Women’s Day, so a more fitting reminder of their role and place in the development of these islands would be hard to imagine. It is a signal that our women will be at the forefront of our development thrust.

The twin gold medals also provide an added reminder to the islands in the OECS that sport is an essential element of that developmental thrust and that, within it, athletics in these islands. It has historically had to play second fiddle to such male-dominated sports as football and cricket but is now demanding its place on the top rung. In this regard, the gold-plated message from Glasgow, is that women will be an integral part of this.

As we celebrate with our brothers and sisters in Dominica and Saint Lucia, Vincentians can only wonder what might have happened if Vincentian middle-distance runner Shafiqua Maloney, embroiled in pre-championships bureaucracy which eventually prevented her participation, had been at the Championships. She had been ranked in the No. 2 position in the world this year. Dare we speculate on the possibility of a third OECS gold? Only the USA would have won more gold medals.

We cannot allow such significant successes to pass by marked by temporary celebrations only. There must be well thought out and concentrated efforts to insist that sport is as important as any other category in taking our countries and the region forward. Just consider one aspect, how sport in general and athletics in particular have helped to drastically increase the number of young people pursuing tertiary education abroad, through sports scholarships.

As our women prepare for their IWD celebrations, Sisters Alfred and Lafond have forcefully reminded them that sport must play a central part of this.

All praise to you Sisters Alfred and La fond, and let us now give our full support to our own Sister Maloney in her endeavour to represent us at the Paris Olympics.