Plans on stream for Guyana’s 2016 Olympic dreams
— GOA president to meet with associations to develop strategy but importing high level coaches could be the answer
Spectacular is certainly not the most appropriate adjective to describe Guyana’s performance at the recent London 2012 Olympic Games where Guyana was represented by six athletes competing in three sports disciplines.
Commendable may be more suitable to describe the feat of a local quarter-miler and policeman Winston George who qualified for the event by sheer will and determination. Even the efforts of 15-year-old Britany van Lange were noteworthy as she gained enough FINA points in international competitions to benefit from a wildcard spot to a get to the games.
It was also honourable that in the winter of her athletic career, 2002 Commonwealth gold medallist Aliann Pompey was able to make the semi-final round at her fourth and certainly final Olympic Games at age 34.
Taken into the context of Guyana’s society, where Olympic sports are plagued by the lack of elite coaches and equipment, insufficient funding and limited facilities, the athletes had a tough task just to make it to that level.
Now, the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and the national fraternities of Olympic sports, will have four years to rectify the hiccups and make a stronger bid for medals at the next Olympiad which will be held a few degrees south in neighbouring country Brazil.
Surely, Guyana will want to turn in a `spectacular’ performance so close to home in the year of its 50th Independence in 2016.
Other Caribbean territories such as Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, who obviously recognise the importance of sports and invested significantly in the development of their athletes, were rewarded with Olympic medals in the year of their 50th independence in London. GOA president, KA Juman-Yassin, when questioned by this newspaper earlier this week, said that he realised the importance of the next Olympic Games but said that specific strategies and goals have not yet been formally outlined.
Juman-Yassin said that a meeting with the heads and coaches of various Olympic sporting fraternities to outline the aforementioned topics was imminent. One of the areas that the GOA president said was crucial to the development of athletes in reaching elite standards was government assistance. The lack of elite coaches, equipment and facilities are also major hindrances to the harnessing of local athletic talent according to Juman Yassin.
Importing Elite Coaches
“Our coaches are trying their utmost but at the end of the day they are not full-time coaches and they have their jobs…” Juman-Yassin declared. The GOA president said that it was his firm belief that Guyana needs to import high level, elite coaches to train the athletes. Juman-Yassin also said that he has witnessed this in other countries and has seen the drastic improvements with the most recent being the Great Britain volleyball team. He added that this will not only benefit the athletes but local coaches can gain experience.
Athletes working the 9-5
“You can’t have athletes working eight hours a day and still expect them to train and give their best…” Juman-Yassin said. According to Juman-Yassin, the path to becoming a successful elite athlete requires full-time devotion and commitment from athletes and this cannot be accomplished if athletes have to work a regular 9-5 job to survive and pay their bills. For this reason, the GOA president said that funding was needed so that elite athletes can be paid for their efforts and concentrate fully on the pursuit of their Olympic dream.
The 2016 Olympics will also mark the debut of Sevens rugby as an Olympic sport.