On Target
January 22, 2010
Just one at least!

As we begin the 2010 sporting season, this column is calling for this nation to make a structured effort to produce a sportsman or sportswoman of international acclaim.

Whilst there have been signs of potential over the years, chances of us producing a renowned athlete have faded as fast as their potential has been discovered.{{more}}

Neither has any national team taken us to the point where Vincentians can hold their heads high and boast of much fame.

We have lost Sophia Young of Basketball fame to the USA set up. Who can blame Young or the US authorities for cashing in on opportunities that are afforded both?

Adonal Foyle has come and done his part, without lighting fires of glory in the NBA, while Sancho Lyttle is more or less just an above average performer in the WNBA.

Similarly, Kineke Alexander, after showing early promise in the 400 m at the US NCAA championships, has faded into almost non-recognition.

Pamenos Ballantyne for the better part of 15 years kept the St. Vincent and the Grenadines flag flying, but that has been mainly on the regional road racing circuit. A good servant for that period, we have seen the best of Ballantyne.

It is without doubt that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is lagging behind in respect of a stand out performer.

In comparison, islands with whom we should be on par have attained such status in recent times. St. Lucia has high jumper Lavern Spencer and Cricketer Darren Sammy, both of whom are currently well known.

Grenada, our southern neighbour, has on the horizon of stardom 400m sensation, young Kirani James.

Antigua and Barbuda has in its possession Daniel Bailey and Brendan Christian, while St. Kitts and Nevis is still reaping that windfall of recognition from former World and Commonwealth 100m gold medallist, Kim Collins.

Shara Proctor of Anguilla, and Dominican sprinter Chris Lloyd hold their respective countries’ name high in the sporting world.

There is no doubt that raw talent exists among our Vincentian sportsmen and women, those homegrown and those who reside elsewhere.

But we seem not to be getting it right as we struggle to get someone up there with the big names.

Despite the fact that Track and Field Athletics has flattered to deceive in this respect, I maintain that area, more so the field events, is the best bet for any sort of prominence. When one looks at success at the Junior Carifta level over the years, the medal counts surpass the track events count.

Medals have come from Orde Ballantyne in Shot Putt and Long Jump, Yvette Haynes- Long Jump, Cordel Da Silva in Javelin, Saville Sayers in Triple Jump, Jacqueline Ross in the Long Jump and Shot Putt, Helen Harry in the Discus, Rohan Saunders at High Jump, as well as Adonson Shallow in Javelin and Discus.

Shallow has also medalled at the NACAC Open and the NACAC Under-23 levels and Caribbean Youth Games at the Discus, Shot Putt and Javelin Throws.

He has also taken up the Hammer Throw now he is at the Southeastern Louisiana University in the USA.

In Track, medals at the Junior showpiece have come from Jacintha Ballantyne, Marvette Collis, and Kineke Alexander in the sprints, while Tyrone James, Sebastian Warner, Junior Ashton, Delhonni Nicol-Samuel , Golda Mc Lean and Theodora Corea secured medals at the middle and long distances.

So, with the stadium not coming any time soon, and because there are some technical officials like Alrick Wright and Woodrow “Killy” Williams around in field events, as well as the expertise of TASVG’s Technical Director Gideon Labban, then there is much to draw on.

Additionally, these events do not need a wide expanse of land. But to get an international athlete is not a simple venture, or simply a walk in the park. Nevertheless, at least we must make a try.

There is the skill. All that is needed is the will.

Try we must to remove that “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.