On Target
August 23, 2019
That normal programming in sports

ST VINCENT AND the Grenadines’ participation in the recently concluded Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, has again underscored where we are in sports.

At the games, St Vincent and the Grenadines had representation of just four members.

Swimmers Cruz Halbich and Mya De Freitas, along with track athlete Brandon Valentine and cyclist, Zefal Bailey.

Halbich and De Freitas, still teenagers, were asked to compete against more seasoned swimmers.

They both were outshone by their opponents in their three events – the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle.

The consolation, though, was that Halbich was able to do his personal best in the 50m and De Freitas bested her time in the 100m.

Meanwhile, Parris, the most seasoned representative among the lot, was woefully short of his best, both in his pet event, the 400m and looked out of sorts in the 200m.

Neither of the three got past the preliminary phase of their respective events.

Too, all three finished down the field in the rankings.

And, in the case of Bailey, he only lasted four laps of his 110mile road race, having to abort the events because of a mechanical problem with his bike.

Granted the realities of the state of sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines, little was expected of podium finishes.

But what was most accepted was better performances all round. This did not happen.

When St Vincent and the Grenadines’ performance is matched against those in the sub region, we were woefully poor on the returns.

Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and the British Virgin Islands all medalled.

To their advantage, these countries count on those persons who reside outside, namely the United States of America, who train regularly and with better facilities to fill their spots at such international events.

This should not substitute for the fact that St Vincent and the Grenadines has to take its participation at such events as the Pan Am Games with a greater level of seriousness.

The Pan Am Games is a good yard stick for future participation at the Olympic Games.

Not to pass judgment in any area, nor cast aspersions on the four representatives to the Lima Games that they did not give of their best, but suffice to say that their bests were not good enough.

The onus therefore must be on the respective national sporting associations to ensure that when teams are represented that a process of preparations must be astutely followed.

We have to get with the programme, time is running out for countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines, as qualification is the route being the preferred option.

The hand-outs train has slowed down to a snail pace, and can soon, if the systems are not put in place, St Vincent and the Grenadines can find itself being mere spectators to some of the more recognised multi-discipline events.

What should we do, sit idly by, talk, promise, lament and nothing happens?

Are we going to continually admire and cheer our neighbouring countries’

achievements and ours are simply warm-ups?

The various sporting disciplines here in St Vincent and the Grenadines cannot always harp and boast on the talent that we have.

Talent alone cannot cut it, as sports is more of a science now, more than ever.

Many who follow sports here, would have been bombarded with the information of the many efforts to promote the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) programme.

How many of the national sporting associations have attended the many workshops and seminars, and have consciously worked towards putting into motion the LTAD programme?

So we are at the crossroads, and must do something to ensure that St Vincent and the Grenadines be conspicuous at regional and international championships.

Being bystanders in sports, have gone on protracted and unchecked.

Are we willing to now take a step back and systematically progress from the current state and become competitors within a given time frame?

The normal programming in sports and acceptance of whatever happens as premium, instead of controlling the outcomes, have resided in our psyche for too long.

All stakeholders, do the self-check and make the necessary adjustments.