Interviews by Dreylan Johnson with photos by Keno George

This week, we asked the man and woman in the street for their thoughts on the Caribbean’s participation in the Olympics, the performances of the Guyanese athletes and what has been the highlight of the Olympics for them so far. Their comments follow:

20160822Michael IgnatiusMichael Ignatius: ‘First of all I think it’s great. It’s any athlete’s dream or achievement to partake in the Olympics in general. So Guyanese and the Caribbean—West Indians we might say—partaking in the Olympics is a great achievement. They made some good strides. A lot of people have been rooting for the Guyanese as well as the other Caribbean athletes. I feel that in the next couple years or so the Caribbean is going to dominate. The West Indians are going to dominate in athletics. I think the Guyanese have done great. The fact that they went and they represented and they created a little buzz, I feel great to call myself a Guyanese as well because they put the Guyanese people on the map and trust me, that will give people more encouragement, more athletes and so forth to push themselves harder to reach the Olympics. So it’s a great thing. Trust me, you will see more of Guyanese and Caribbean people dominating in the Olympics soon. I like sports in general so I like everything basically, or most of everything. I like the track and field, I like the gymnastics, also swimming and these kinds of things. Because in any sport, they’re certain players, they’re certain teams that partake in different events, they’re certain big names that you go and you follow to see how good they will do and who will come and take their place.’

20160822Shavane VyphiusShavane Vyphuis: This week has been an interesting week because we have the Olympics and it’s playing on the television. For me, I’m very much excited because I’m a sports person, so I try to watch as much of the various disciplines when I’m home. I must say I’m excited about what the Caribbean athletes are doing. I’m impressed by what the Jamaicans would have achieved so far. But there’s disappointment, yes. I wish that Guyana could have more contingents at the different Olympic Games, especially at the next Olympics so we could have something more to cheer about, even though we know we would have sent up a few athletes. The guy that did the triple jump that placed seventh among all the contestants that were there, it’s a high achievement for Guyana. The person who would have placed second in the 50m swimming heat, is also a good thing for Guyana. At least we’re showing that we have the calibre to rank among world class athletes. I guess a little more sponsorship is needed and maybe the government coming on board and playing a bigger role so that other athletes that have the talent can be nurtured and so eventually, we can sit back home and cheer on our athletes. For me, I’m a sports person so I can safely say that I enjoy the gymnastics, what the US women were able to achieve in so many years, track and field for me would be number one, also, soccer, my favourite sport. I like where the Brazilians are in the world cup. I’m hoping that they can go on to the finals and even win the gold medal, seeing as it is being hosted in their hometown.’

20160822Candace BobbCandace Bobb: I feel good about the Caribbean representing because I feel good that the Caribbean is dominating, especially, Jamaica. I like our Guyanese boy. The next time he will do better. I watched the first race [with a Guyanese], I think he brought fifth– it was running. Then I watched the long jump, when he made it to the finals, he got seventh space, but he still did good. Next four years, if he continues practising, he might get better. I like the running, especially Bolt, that’s my boy! The best thing is Bolt, and this American girl that did gymnastics—she’s really good, I enjoyed her.’

20160822 Elton MonahElton Monah: ‘The honest truth? I love the Caribbean people that represent their country, it’s a boost for the Caribbean. It’s a start, and it will help the other Caribbean countries to push their athletes forward to reach a higher level. I love Guyana’s representation, even though we did not qualify for the events, I like the push. I like the effort that the Guyanese made, it is good and I encourage Guyana as a country to get more involved in sports to that level and train properly and be efficient in what they’re doing and focus. Because I know we have the athletes and we have the talent and we can get to the top. Some of the major highlights—I follow the boxing, I follow the canoe races, the 100m, the 200m with Bolt, plus the women’s races–it was good. I wish if Guyanese could get involved in those races, it would be great news.’

20160822Oneil McalmontOniel Mcalmont: ‘I feel really good to see the Caribbean countries participating, but from my point of view I think Guyana needs to step up its game more and try to get more youths into sports so they can represent our country. I haven’t seen any race with Guyanese, that’s because I’m not really following it that much, but I feel proud to know Guyana is representing at least. I saw the 200m race with Bolt and the 100m.’

20160822Andre LesterAndre Lester: They’re doing good, they’re trying hard and working towards things. I watched the Guyanese perform in swimming, I like the effort they made. I think they tried and they represented Guyana in a good way. I like the effort that they made. Yes, I say the guy in the long jump, I know Guyanese could jump high so…I think they did good in everything. The best moment is when I saw Bolt running. I like when Bolt runs, the speed and the way he makes that sign when he’s done, the way he showcases everything. No, I don’t think he should retire, because I think in every race he runs he would win, because everybody just hearing his name ‘Bolt’ and they’re afraid of him. Even if he doesn’t run, I think he would still win. Even if he just stands up and all, he would win that race.’

20160822Shonette ThomasShonette Thomas: ‘I’m not really following it up because I don’t really look at the Olympics like that, but being that I’m in the shop, I know we’re not having many customers, that’s the reason I’m sitting and looking at it right now, that’s the only reason. The only highlight for me really was Usain Bolt. I was backing him 100%. I’m backing the Guyanese too. So far it’s only one Guyanese I saw do something, he did the long jump. That’s the only one I saw since they started. And I think they had one with swimming, I looked at that one too. So far it’s only those two really that interested me.’

20160822Armand RamdhaniArmand Ramdhani: ‘Jamaica is doing quite well for the track and field; Usain Bolt won the sprints. I remember Guyana participated in the long jump too, and he did quite well. Everyone is athletic and competitive so Guyana has to try hard. Hannibal Gaskin, he did good, he did well. He tried hard, but as I said, everyone is competitive so we have to try harder.’

20160822critchlowCleyon Critchlow: The Caribbean’s participation, I think was very interesting. They tried their best, they put their best foot forward and they got their country to a place where it could be noticed and known that we have talent within our country. My favourite highlight of the Olympics was Bolt making history. I watched the triple jump—Troy Doris—I think he actually did the best for me among the Guyanese participants. I think he did very well because his ranking at the Olympics was seventh, so I think he really did very well for Guyana. Winston George, he tried in the 400m, he did well. Vanessa Thompson, also she did fairly well in the 200m, also the girl that swam, she did well too to make it to the semi-finals. But Troy Doris, he actually highlighted the Guyana athletes by ranking 7th at the Olympics and making the finals for Guyana after 32 years since the boxer got bronze medal for us, the only medal that we ever got at Olympics.’

20160822 Zhane DavidZhane David: My opinion on the girl’s performance when it came to the 400m swimming semi-finals? She did a perfect job because most of these Caribbean people—except for Guyanese—think that Guyana lacks a lot of competitive people, and talented people and skilful people. We ourselves bash each other by saying that we can’t do this and we can’t do that and she put her best foot forward, and knowing that she brought second, I believe we’re doing a great job. And not only the Guyanese but the whole Caribbean. We have been doing a fantastic performance so far on everything—swimming, running, all the high jumps, the javelin, everything, the Caribbean people have put their best foot forward for that. And my highlight for the Olympics was when everybody had high expectations that Shelly-Ann would have won and I already had my mind saying that this Thompson girl was going to make it, and she did it. She even beat the record that Fraser-Pryce set, and then to know that Fraser-Pryce brought third. That was my highlight, but then still, at the ending of it, the Caribbean countries, they still brought first and third.’

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