By Marlon Munroe
Up to press time yesterday four of Guyana’s amateur boxers and a hockey player in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico for the Central American and Caribbean Games had not received their luggage from LIAT airline.
Chef-de-Mission of the Guyana team Deion Nurse and Manager of the boxing team Maurice Rajkumar confirmed that the boxers were not in receipt of their luggage yesterday. Rajkumar, speaking from Puerto Rico yesterday added that the management team for the boxers had to buy underwear and other pieces of clothes for the boxers.
He pointed out though that the boxing contingent was trying its utmost to “make good of a bad situation.” The boxers who have not received their luggage are Team Captain and 1998 Junior Commonwealth silver medallist Clevlon Rock, Bert Braithwaite, Dexter Jordan and Herlando Allicock; it was not known who the hockey player was at press time yesterday.
Rajkumar noted that the problem started last Saturday morning when they departed Guyana for the nine-day games. He revealed that when the team reached Trinidad & Tobago, the in transit point, they had to be accommodated at a hotel before they were winged out on Sunday morning.
According to Rajkumar the team arrived at the games village in Puerto Rico around 16:00 hours on Sunday. Rajkumar pointed out that his first fighter enters the ring on Friday but these problems have not yet been resolved.
Meanwhile, Nurse said that the boxers were severely affected by the saga. Nurse said that ever since the delay in the athletes’ luggage the airline has given him a “royal run around.”
Rajkumar said if he should express how he feels it would not be suitable for the readership of the newspaper.
Speaking from Puerto Rico yesterday Nurse emphasised that at such an important tournament it was unfair that Guyana should start on this note. He conceded though that the organising committee of the CAC Games has been working hard to have its officials at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, southeast of San Juan to retrieve the luggage of the local athletes. Further, he pointed out that the games village is 3 ½ hours away from the airport and in many instances the phone and internet connections are poor. Nurse told Stabroek Sport yesterday though that the organisers of the games have promised to have these problems rectified although he has found it difficult to make contact with the relevant authorities of LIAT to ascertain the reasons for the delay.
Until that time, Nurse says, he will be optimistic that all problems will be ironed out especially since the affected boxers and hockey player have not been able to train since they arrived in Puerto Rico.
Back home in Guyana President of the Guyana Amateur Boxing association Steve Ninvalle said that it is regrettable that such a situation has developed especially since the fighters and management team left Guyana in high spirits. He believes that the local boxers have now started the tournament “at a disadvantage.” He is hopeful thought that the airline, which has received a lot of negative publicity for sometime now, will have this situation rectified speedily.
When Stabroek Sport contacted the local LIAT head office and at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, officials said that when the team departed Guyana on July 17 “no luggage was left behind.” They believe also that it is possible that the luggage might have been left at the in transit port in Trinidad & Tobago.