DESPITE being beleaguered by a litany of problems, our athletes continue to shine both here and abroad. In every sport, our athletes have managed to lift both our flag and spirits as they blaze trails, often smashing records in the process.
The world knows all too well about the exploits of our Daren Sammy, Johnson Charles, Keddy Lesporis, Jeanelle Scheper, Levern Spencer, Rick Wayne, Beth Lygoe, et al, who have all racked up accolades that still marvel us.
That is why our latest athlete to attract the limelight is so special because she reminds us that excellence in sports still resides within us. Fifteen-year-old Julien Alfred this week won Saint Lucia’s first-ever gold medal for track and field at the Commonwealth Youth Games now on in The Bahamas.
Competing in the Girls’ Under-18 100-metres race, she had an impressive win in a time of 11.56 seconds, ahead of Australia’s Louise Riley who placed second and Canada’s Deondra Green in third place.
The 2015 Junior Sportswoman of the Year is the latest in a string of sporting successes for the island. Earlier this month, middle distance runner, Marbeq Edgar won two gold medals in the 800-metres and 1500-metres distance at the OECS Track and Field Championships held in Grenada. At that same meet, high jump sensation, MakebaAlcide scored gold as well. Saint Lucia also picked up four silver and two bronze medals in that meet. There are many others in many other sports disciplines who should also feel proud.
Especially when something pays off this highly, it is incumbent on all sports administrations, private and public sectors and sport-loving fans to throw their wholehearted support behind our athletes. Behind the performances and the medals are athletes who are faced with off-the-field challenges that surpass the rattling nerves they experience when they stand side by side with their opponents.
While many gains have been made in creating a better ambience at sporting facilities, greater effort must be placed on enhancing the quality. For instance, why should our boxers have to find themselves fighting for a proper gym that encourages their sport? Why should playing fields still be without washrooms and changings rooms? Why should spectators not be provided decent seating at playing fields?
Despite the odds they face, our sportsmen and sportswomen are proving that they still manage to overcome those trials and excel. However, in the process of doing so, they are also reminding us that we still need to do whatever we do with the highest degree of excellence.
Congrats to Julien Alfred and all our athletes who continue to add meaning to what national pride should embody: excellence. Take a bow.