Two companies and Government assist Olympics-bound US based SVG athletes
Handal Roban (left)secured the gold medal with a time of 1:45.93 (PB & NR), and Shafiqua Maloney (right) secured the bronze medal with a time of 2:04.98
March 5, 2024
Two companies and Government assist Olympics-bound US based SVG athletes

The East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC), Coreas Hazells Inc, and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have teamed up to provide support to two national athletes as they prepare for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Speaking on the SportsMax Zone programme on Wednesday February, 28, 2024, Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said “We have made advancement on two fronts, the governmental and the private sector, in terms of support. There are two companies here, one a regional company with a footprint in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and one company originating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has a regional footprint”.

He named the East Caribbean Group of Companies, “which is a flour mill, rice mill and animal feed mill,” and Coreas, “which is…a local branch of …the regional conglomerate, Goddard’s out of Barbados. Both of them have responded quite well,” the Prime Minister said.

He said both companies have made arrangements to provide support to US based athletes Shafiqua Maloney and Handel Roban.

Handel Roban is an 800-metre runner currently at university in Pennsylvania; before that he was at Jamaica College.

The assistance package for the two will extend until the end of August 2024, when a review will be done and needed arrangements will be made for the continued development of the athletes.

The Prime Minister said the two companies last Wednesday “have either sent resources or today in the process of sending because they were making all the relevant arrangements to go through all the governance arrangements to make sure that they secured the requisite approvals.”

The Prime Minister also revealed that he had received details on Maloney’s immigration situation, “and we are working at that. It’s easier to provide financial resources than in fact to get past some roadblocks in the US immigration system”.

As a result of the immigration situation, Maloney missed the March 1-3, World Indoor Championships in Glasgow Scotland.

A few years ago Maloney had sent a budget to the Prime Minister. He said on the SportsMax Zone programme that the amount requested “was not out of the ballpark”.

The proposal was forwarded to the Ministry of Sports, he said, “and the answer that I got back after the Ministry of Sport had consulted with the various entities is that she was, in their opinion at the time, not deserving of support. This is why I say that this is a stone that the builder rejected, and I’m not calling names of any association or any person in the country, but clearly the assessment which was made was a faulty assessment”.

He added that in an exercise of this nature “ we have to be both critical and self-critical and to be honest and straightforward with everybody. That’s the way how I know to do it”.

He pointed out that various entities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines send a number of athletes to Jamaica for training, as coaches, and some as developing athletes themselves.

He added that “last year I was informed purely because of the ease of accessibility to me. One athlete… from JC Foster telephoned me and said, ‘look, 14 of them are about to be closed out from their examinations because of arrears of monies. I said, what you’re talking about?’ 14 individual coaches or entities had sent these people…not the government. I contacted immediately, the director myself, and gave the assurance that whatever the arrears, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will pay. It turned out to be 180,000 US dollars.”

With some measure of annoyance, Dr Gonsalves said he has repeatedly said to the various associations…” tell me when you’re sending your students what arrangements you’re making. Don’t do them on your own, because you more than likely would end up in grief, difficulties and problems. I don’t want to see that happen to any of our people, especially our young people”.