We should all be mindful that this country’s best Olympic Games performance came from Eswort Coombs of Chateaubelair while competing in the 400m at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1996. Perhaps it was that at the time Coombs may well have been much more hungry for success than our current crop of athletes and perhaps, too, at that time, he understood that he did possess the requisite talent and made it through to the semi-finals.
No other Vincentian athlete has since shown the level of commitment to success at the Olympics level, and this despite some of them having benefitted from access to high level training opportunities.
The poor performances of Vincentian athletes at this year’s Olympic Games are but a reflection of several important factors, not the least of which may well be a general lack of understanding of what constitutes appreciation of self and one’s talent as well as of national pride. The athletes may also be well aware that many of the athletes around them in their respective events have access to government funding in support of their preparation. Many are professionals with coaches who offer them the very best in terms of competition and some, access to chemicals that are intended to allow them to engage in tougher training with a significantly higher capacity to recover from heavier training loads in quicker time than the average athlete.
For our athletes the playing field at the Olympics is never level. Despite this, however, one would have been correct in expecting at least the attainment of best ever performances on their part. No excuses should be accepted here.
The preparation of our athletes for the Olympic Games must be seen as one critical factor militating against better performances. For the athletes at home there was no adequate playing field on which they could have trained to a level deemed satisfactory. The results of the Inter Schools Track and Field Championships served to justify the predictions of the athletics coaches in the country in respect of the impact the heavy sand base would have on the preparation of athletes generally. In the absence of a synthetic surface and the sandy loam of the existing facilities in the aftermath of the Cricket World Cup 2007 the local athletes did not have a ghost of a chance of making the requisite standards.
The overseas-based athletes are not under the direct control of the governing body of the sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines since their first loyalty is to the schools and centres to which they have been granted scholarships. Thereby hangs a tale.