The year 2021 has to be the most inactive for St Vincent and the Grenadines, sporting wise. This, as the year was more than eventful for all sectors.
First, it was the hangover from the scourges of the coronavirus pandemic which began its mental and physical ravages in 2020.
Then came the eruptions of La Soufriere volcano in April. The displacements, disruptions to lives and livelihoods were far reaching and impactful.
Additionally, the country was grazed by Hurricane Elsa in July, whilst lahars continuously plagued residents in the more northerly communities of the mainland.
Amidst the despair, occasional hopefulness and feelings of relenting from being resilient, there were some performances which gave something to change the frowns into cheers and optimism.
Among the instances of hope was the performance of Handal Roban. Seen as one of SVG’s bright sparks in track and field, Roban was able to set a new all- time St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) record in the men’s 800m. He did so in the semi-finals of the World Athletics Under-20 championships in Nairobi, Kenya, in August.
In doing so, Roban eclipsed the national record which stood for 29 years. His record breaking run though marked the fifth occasion for the year that he was shaving off time on the distance.
Apart from setting records, Roban claimed gold in the 800m at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18/ Under-20 and Under-23 Championships in Costa Rica. To boot, he pouched a silver medal in the Under-20 category of the 400m at the same championships.
That NACAC event proved to be a watershed for St Vincent and the Grenadines’ athletes, as four others medalled.
This, as Shafiqua Maloney claimed gold in the Under-23 women’s 800m and silver in the 400m, while Uroy Ryan took gold in the Under-18 male long jump.
Mikeisha Welcome pocketed a silver medal in the women’s Under-23 triple jump and Kyle Lawrence fetched himself a bronze medal in the men’s Under-18 100m.
The returns by the Vincentian contingent turned out to be the best at a championships of that nature.
In addition to these on track efforts, several athletes were able to land scholarships to US colleges and universities, as well as schools in Jamaica.
Most notably among the lot were the enrolment of Roban and Ulanda Lewis to the Penn State University and the University of Alabama, respectively. Of note too, was Zamesha Myle’s full scholarship to attend the Central Arizona College in the USA.
During the year also, Vincentian cricketer- Obed Mc Coy announced himself as one of the regional emerging fast bowlers, especially in the T/20 format. Mc Coy distinguished himself in the home series versus Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa.
Using his variations to good effect, Mc Coy picked up four wickets in three matches against Sri Lanka, scalped nine in five matches versus South Africa and five in two matches against Australia. In the latter series, Mc Coy played in the first and third matches of the five -match series, in which the West Indies trumped 4-1.
Before that though, Mc Coy, representing Team Abu Dhabi in the Abu Dhabi T/10 league collected 10 wickets at 13.9 runs apiece.
Away from the on field or track accomplishments, one has also to herald and salute the appointment of Ezra Hendrickson as head coach of Major League Soccer (MLS) as a national feat for a Vincentian.
Undoubtedly, Hendrickson’s rise on the US Soccer landscape is a testimony to his all-round abilities and tenacity to make an impression for himself and fellow Vincentians home and abroad.
Likewise, another Layou native, Chester Morgan during 2021, took up the post of Director of Coaches and Camps of NACAC.
Honourable mentions are in order for Shad Thomas who is carving out a career in Basketball at the US National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Division II level, representing Catawba Valley Community College in North Carolina.
Too, Desron Bynoe’s trumping of the masters’ division and Amber Glasgow’s win in the women’s segment of the Antigua and Barbuda Cycling Federation’s Subway Three Stage Invitational Championships, get show ins.
Not to be forgotten are the lead players in the SVG Chess Federation who ensured that this country was inducted as a full member of the International Chess Federation(FIDE).
In similar vein, the coming on stream of the Archery Association of St Vincent and the Grenadines offers Vincentians another option as a sporting discipline.
And, all those national associations, namely Swimming, Athletics, Cycling, Table Tennis and Rugby which found the ways and means to have some form of national competitions, must be lauded as others took the escape route by masquerading behind COVID-19.
Hopefully, as we go deeper into 2022, let our faith see us through. But, most all those who marked time and simply occupied space in 2021, let them look at themselves critically as their only claim to fame in the period under review was doing injustice to the charges they took privilege in disappointing.