2013 – a year of measured progress in sport

2013Sometimes we are our own worst enemies by virtue of the way we set our standards so very high that we often overlook the few small steps towards progress that we have made.
We are often too busy seeking the glory of making it to the finals of the Football World Cup or winning a medal at the Olympic Games that we turn a blind eye to the fact that we are working in the field and that things are indeed happening.
2013 was a year in which St Vincent and the Grenadines made some important strides in the field of sport.
Kineke Alexander, training in the USA and with continued support from the National Olympic Committee and Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines, was successful at the Central American and Caribbean Senior Championships held in Morelia, Mexico in July 2013.
Kineke placed third in the 400m and returned to win the 200m in grand style.
Kineke’s victory at the CAC competition, which boasts 31 countries, was the second gold won by a Vincentian at this level. The first was Eswort Coombs who won the 400m at the CAC Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in 1995, the same year he won the 400m at the World University Student Games in Fukuoka, Japan.
Kineke became the most successful athlete at these Championships by making it to the podium on two occasions at the same competition.
Shafiqua Maloney gave stellar performances at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Age Group Championships in Curacao, when she won gold in her age category, 13 – 14 years.
Maloney amassed a total of 4204 points to take top honours in the seven events in which she competed over the two days of competition. Her achievement was the first by a Vincentian athlete since the country has been participating in the biennial competition.
The home-based Boyde brothers Roberto and Reuberth – gave spirited performances at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Roberto achieved a performance in the 100m of 10.86, good enough to get him into the semi finals of the event, while Reuberth covered the same distance in 10.88. The former covered the distance in 10.82 in the semi finals and was unlucky not to make it to the final.
In the 200m Reuberth achieved a time of 21.78 while Roberto did the event in 21.88. They both made it to the semi finals but did not get through to the final.
The achievements of the Boyde brothers proved to be the best by Vincentian athletes attending the IAAF World Youth Championships since this country has been participating.
Vincentian athletes gave good account of themselves at the OECS Invitational in St Kitts, the Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia National Championships, the Junior National Championships in Trinidad and Tobago and in several road events around the region.
Pamenos Ballantyne and Linda Mc Dowall represented us well in road races closing the year with victories in the NACAC 10K that ended in the city of Kingstown.
Mention must be made of the sadness that swept across the athletics fraternity when news of the passing of Lisa Daniel came to the fore.
The road racing fraternity in Guadeloupe dedicated a road race in her honour.
Swimming has been the fastest mover in sport for 2013. The progress made has been amazing but speaks volumes of the commitment of the leadership of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Amateur Swimming Association and the parents of the children involved in the sport, as well as the tremendous dedication of the athletes themselves.
With assistance from the National Olympic Committee the athletes have been able to participate in two very intense training camps in Florida, USA, during the year; the association benefitted from a six-month programme for the development of its national sport structure and a two-week technical course for the certification of its coaches.
Athletes have attended several competitions and the country has witnessed the attainment of the first swimming medal at the annual Carifta Games in the history of the sport, through Shne Joachim.
Throughout 2013 Shne Joachim has been heaping gold medals along with those of a different hue at competitions across the Caribbean bettering her times with great consistency. Her latest achievement was the setting of an age-old competition record in the 50m Breaststroke in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.
Nikolas Sylvester has also been improving significantly during the year and with great support from the other athletes who continue to work diligently under the watchful eyes of the association.
Kudos is due to the Swimming Association for its initiative to reach out to 12 communities around St Vincent and the Grenadines introducing children to competitive swimming. The first community involved was Rose Place, Kingstown. There is little doubt that this outreach programme has the potential to significantly stimulate interest in the sport as well as yield an abundance of talented Vincentian youths who can go on to excel in it.
The Vincentian Volleyball teams have been the beneficiaries of a tremendous amount of assistance from the continental – NORCECA – and international – FIVB – bodies for the sport as well as from our NOC.
Consistent training has yielded some outstanding performances in Volleyball with the result that for the first time the Boys’ team has qualified to compete at the 2nd Summer Youth Olympics scheduled for Nanjing in 2014.
A new executive took charge in the latter part of the year with great commitment to delivering the goods in respect of the continued development of the sport.
Squash continues to do well at the level of the OECS with continued hard work being undertaken at home.
The junior athletes continue to dominate the OECS sub region.
At the senior Caribbean level however the Vincentians form part of the OECS team and this was not one of the better years for them.
The veterans however continue to do well at the Caribbean level with James Bentick and Sherian Slater leading by example and copping first and second places in their respective categories.
The Vincentian team has already qualified to compete at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Vera Cruz, Mexico, 14 – 30 November 2014.
Once more the National Olympic Committee has been very supportive of the Squash Association in St Vincent and the Grenadines and has been helpful in the developmental being undertaken by the leadership.
Table Tennis
The Table Tennis fraternity is now on to a new phase in its development. There is now a consistent developmental thrust that is taking the sport to new levels across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
A four-year development plan has been formulated and the beneficiaries of NOC-supported technical courses have been called upon to take to the field in several communities around the country to put their training to full use in the service of Vincentian children.
The Independence tournament yielded evidence of the resurgence of interest in the sport, a feature that augurs well for the future.
Kavir Gaymes, Damion Dublin and Javier de Shong, have been selected to attend an intensive training camp early in the new year. Jose Carrington with travel with the aforementioned athletes as coach.
Other sports
Our netballers remain highly competitive at the level of the OECS but somehow seem to fall short at the broader Caribbean level. The organisation has been working assiduously on developing from the base upwards and it is expected that the results would prove a boon to the organisation and the sport in the future.
Vincentian cricketers continued to dominate the Windward Islands competition at the senior level. This has not however translated into performances that have attracted the attention of the selectors of the West Indies Cricket Board.
There remains concern that the old practice of seeing our cricketers practising on a regular basis in different parts of the country seems to be dying, leaving many to believe that the sport is in some sort of depression.
Cycling continues to work on its development with new emphasis being placed on the introduction of BMX events.
The Cycling Union is in receipt of an NOC programme aimed at developing its national sport structure and the expert is intent on facilitating the local body with the introduction of BMX Cycling events in different parts of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Football has been engaging teams around the country in several competitions. The performance of the national teams at different levels remains a bother.
Technical Director, Keith Ollivierre and coach, Andrew Bramble, have been recent recipients of advanced training courtesy the NOC and are eager to put to practise their newly-acquired skills and knowledge.
Tennis has a new executive and there are plans for a resurgence in the sport. The new team need the support of the entire Tennis fraternity if they are to make the kind of impact that would see the sport return to earlier days of success.
Rugby has been seeking to make some headway with its new executive and plans are afoot to develop the sport with assistance from the International Rugby Board and the NOC.
Basketball has had its share of challenges but the interest remains. There are plans to work more diligently on the development of all aspects of the sport. Development of the sport in both Bequia and Union Island saw many of the players on both the male and female teams for the Windward islands Schools Games coming from these islands.
Schools’ Sports
The most successful local sporting events were the annual Inter Primary and Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships. The standard of these events continues to improve by leaps and bounds with performance standards rising all of the time.
The hosting of the different sports – Football and Netball, in the first term of the new academic year was not without challenges they were completed with great interest and enthusiasm.
There is now greater involvement on the part of the Principals’ Associations and this is expected to continue going forward facilitating greater collaboration, participation and success.
The Ministry of Education’s hosting of the annual Windward Islands Schools Games certainly lifted the bar on the event with a number of innovations that enhanced the overall quality of the product.
2013 was a difficult year economically and each national sports association felt the pressure.
The NOC delivered on its commitment supporting the different associations with training at several levels, financial assistance for participating in competitions and the acquisition of much-needed equipment.
Vincentians possess an abundance of sporting talent and it is the responsibility of each association and all as a collective to work harmoniously to facilitate genuine development, the key to success.