The realities are…
On Target
April 5, 2024

The realities are…

Over the Easter weekend, St Vincent and the Grenadines for another year, competed at two regional Carifta events: The 51st Carifta Games at the Kirani James Athletics Stadium, Grenada and the XXXVII Carifta Aquatics (Swimming) Championships, held at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre, Bahamas.

The representative track and field athletes at the Grenada outing, returned medal-less, their best performances being two fourth places: Tyhra Charles in the U-20 Girls 400m, and Keo Davis in the U-20 Male 200m.

Consolation came as well for the Under-20 male 4 x 100m team of Timothy Williams, Keo Davis, J’ Mar Saunders, and AJ Delpesche which set a new national record in that event.

However, in the Bahamas, Kione De Shong continued the charge, as his bronze medal in the 11-12 Boys 100m Breaststroke, ensured that for the tenth successive championships, St Vincent and the Grenadines was able to attain at least one medal.

For both representative teams, the others whilst not medalling, would have achieved their personal bests in their respective events, improved on their times and distances, broke national records and gain valuable experiences from the outings.

Unfortunately, for many Vincentians the latter does not count, as the medals are their benchmark and parameters for success.

Attaining medals even at Carifta is not as simple as one may think, as there are many debilitating factors.

But the realities are before us; our young sportsmen and sportswomen are asked to do more than their fair share when required to compete against their regional counterparts, in these instances- the regional show pieces, the two Carifta championships.

Admittedly, they compete from behind, having to contend with others who have better training facilities, more regular competitions, larger economies of scale, more corporate support and political directorates that understand the value of investing in young people and more so, sports.

Added, St Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a sports culture that makes sports a national affair, hence, that ready buy-in, is not very pronounced among the business sector and stakeholders.

Looking at the two most recent Carifta championships, there were supporters, parents and other well wishers who journeyed to the respective host countries in droves, to provide that morale buffer to their teams.

Again, except for a few, St Vincent and the Grenadines had little visible presence by way of travelling fans, excluding a few parents.

And, this is not that persons are unwilling to attend, but they are inhibited by the restrictive cost of air travel and its attending costs.

Such occurrences and realities are what young Vincentian sportsmen and sportswomen have to navigate when they venture out on regional championships, as the extra voices, flags and physical reinforcement are natural incentives to perform.

Notwithstanding the debilitating factors that have been with us for some time, mitigating and understanding our position are the next best options.

Hence, set aside the likes of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas, who are some miles ahead of us, we have to begin firstly, to close the gap on our OECS counterparts and others in the wider Caribbean.

Therefore, an assessment of where we are, and accept that we have to make small steps rather than leaps, are the pointers of departure in making statements at Carifta.

Indeed, Carifta is the best gauge for Vincentian track and field athletes and swimmers alike, as they rub shoulders with regional opposition.

It is noteworthy that St Vincent and the Grenadines was able to medal at the inaugural Track and Field Games, held in 1972. Since then there have been dribs and drabs of medals over the 51 editions, despite several pauses when there was non-participation by St Vincent and the Grenadines.

On the other hand, in the Carifta Swimming Championships, which this year held its 37th edition, St Vincent and the Grenadines has been medalling each year since bagging the first medal in 2013.

Although the dynamics of the two disciplines are different, so too have been the relative accomplishments hence, the ways to consistent success require variances, but the common denominators remain commitment to cause, planning, financial support and will to achieve.

With these fully in train St Vincent and the Grenadines will then be able to better its chances and become a force to reckon with at the annual Carifta extravaganzas.