On Target
February 4, 2005
Ballantyne overlooked – Where is Pamenos Ballantyne?

Tomorrow, the National Sports Council brings off its sixth annual awards ceremony. The nominees have been announced and the judges have chosen the various winners. The activity is recognition for our hard working sport personalities, forced to display their skills in circumstances below the desired standards. Therein perhaps lies the quality of the athlete who achieves ultimate success. {{more}}

But there seems to be an element of disrespect injected into the exercise. And it has come from different quarters.

Some associations treat the event with little regard, not even nominating candidates. Or they are scrappy with details on their athletes. But who can overlook what is an open warfare between Pamenos Ballantyne and the Athletics Association, now dubbed Team Athletics.

Ballantyne, even with his eccentricity has proven of immense merit on the athletic track and notably on the road. His record has spoken and Ballantyne continues to roll over triumph after triumph.

His recognition at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States as Male Sports Personality for 2004, is testimony of his wider acclaim. Still he was not a nominee for any category on the local front. His battles with the association, over disciplinary measures and administrative moves have erupted into open conflict, played out in public.

Rewards for athletes like Pamenos Ballantyne ought to be given with some sense of patriotism. He serves as a natural boost to this country’s tourism product, for there is certainly some curiosity whenever Ballantyne turns up for any event.

He has established himself as the best distance runner in the Western Hemisphere. A situation alluded to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves when the prestige ambassadorial status was placed on Pamenos among five Vincentians. That stands out as perhaps the greatest honour bestowed on our sporting nation. Cricketers Nixon McLean, Cameron Cuffy, netballer Skiddy Francis Crick, and cultural icon Alston ‘Becket’ Cyrus complete the quintet given the honour of performing at the diplomatic level. It is a pity that Pamenos continues to be slighted.

He dominated the field for the 1999, 2000, 2001 functions, copping the Sports Personality award. That followed Alston Bobb’s seizure for 1998. Orlanzo Jackson 2002, and Adonal Foyle 2003 complete the list of top awardees.

Perhaps some persons think perhaps Ballantyne has been too much of a dominant factor on the athletic stage. So as Hollis ‘Chalkdust’ Liverpool uttered in one of his songs: “Let new stars be born.”

It is time the nitpicking and act of spite, revenge, or victimisation cease. Charity begins at home, so it has been said, in proverbial terms. And that practice must obtain no matter how advanced or technologically inclined we may become as we adjust to the global agenda. But we must never be afraid to nurture indigenous talent, and ensure that we encourage its growth and cherish its accomplishments.