WITH weeks to go before the commencement of the Commonwealth Games in Australia, there is still no word from the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC), which promised to make a pronouncement on Saint Lucia’s team to this year’s Games.
Gold Coast 2018 will run from April 4 to 15.
At a recent press conference, Secretary General of the SLOC, Alfred Emmanuel, said: “Saint Lucia will be heading to the Commonwealth Games in Australia and to date a number of athletes have been in training for the Games. The sporting disciplines of swimming, boxing and track and field are considered frontrunners.”
Emmanuel added that the SLOC will be making a pronouncement in February as to who will be making that trip to the Gold Coast. However, he was quick to reiterate that the SLOC has not selected any athlete as yet as it relates to participation in the Gold Coast Games.
By all indications, the SLOC will have to wait until the completion of the annual Independence track and field championships slated for February 24-25 when the Saint Lucia Athletic Association (SLAA) is expected to make their recommendations to the SLOC for consideration.
One would have thought that the SLAA would have had a pool of athletes in training in preparation following the 2014 Games in Glasgow, or even the Olympic Games in Rio, and also to keep a close eye on the Saint Lucian athletes attending universities colleges overseas to select from. Apparently, that is not the case here.
How many of our overseas athletes will be here to compete at the Independence Games and vie for a spot on the Commonwealth Games team? Who will be responsible for them coming to Saint Lucia? Will the cost of airline tickets, accommodation, ground transportation and meals be taken care of by the SLAA or the SLOC? For too long now, we have taken our sportsmen and sportswomen for a ride. The time has come to stop the talk and put words into action. Time to lift the bar.
Talking about lifting the bar, how can one lift the bar when the first sport meet for 2018 held at the dilapidated George Odlum Stadium and for the track events, a whistle had to be used to start the events? You really want to know why? Simply because there was no ammunition. Such action certainly sends the wrong signal as to where we are in sports after six years competing at the Olympic Games (Atlanta, USA 1996 to Rio, Brazil 2016) and 39 years of Independence. We need to ask ourselves whether we are serious about sports in Fair Helen.
The sport of boxing currently has three boxers attending a live-in camp in Trinidad and Tobago in preparation for the Games.
Those in swimming have made their intention clear and have already indicated who their two representatives for the Gold Coast will be: 2016 Junior Sportswoman of the Year, Katie Kyle; and Jean Luc Zephir. The two athletes are studying and training at Plymouth College in the UK and will be accompanied to the Games by Head Coach David Peterkin from Saint Lucia.
It is not a question of comparing this country with that and the first thing you will hear is where are we getting the money from. I guess we get it to do otherwise, nothing to do with sports. The question remains: When will we get it right? Our level of preparation regarding our athletes for local, regional and international events has been a major issue way before my time. Individuals who head some of these national sports associations under the SLOC banner are aware of the malady, but have failed to address it even while in office.
To date, a number of countries — including New Zealand — have named athletes to their track and field team for April’s Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. The naming of the athletics team brings the New Zealand team to 90 members.
India will start as favourites to secure the mixed team badminton gold medal with competing countries now discovering their group opponents. The draw for the 16-team competition took place at The Star Gold Coast, one of the sponsors of the multi-sport event.
In mid-January, the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) named a four-member team comprising two male and two female players to participate in the Commonwealth Games.
The team chosen to represent the Isle of Man at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia was unveiled at a ceremony in Douglas this past weekend. In total, 32 athletes have been selected and will compete in eight sports on the Gold Coast: athletics, badminton, cycling (track/ road/ mountain), gymnastics, lawn bowls, shooting, swimming and triathlon. The athletes will travel to Australia on March 19, 16 days ahead of the games.
Finally, it is simple: if we prepare early enough, we are bound to reap success at all levels. But if we continue on the same trend year in year out and don’t give a damn about the athletes, rest assured, we will continue to be a laughing stock to the rest of the region, the Commonwealth and the rest of the sporting world.