The top brass of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and other officials commended the 11 representatives that competed at the just concluded South American Games in Bolivia while once again calling for more tangible support for local sportsmen and women.
“Our team did exceedingly well and I am proud of them” said long serving President of the GOA, Kalam Azad Juman-Yassin yesterday at the GOA’s headquarters. “But the days of just photo opportunities and handshakes must come to an end. The government needs to do more for our athletes.” Juman-Yassin added.
Guyana finished with five medals thanks to boxers Keevin Allicock (56kg) and Colin Lewis (64kg) and track and field athletes, Leslain Baird, Winston George (400m) and Jenea McCammon (100mh).
Baird, set a new national javelin record (78.65m) en route to earning a silver medal. For his exploits he was promptly promoted from Petty Officer to Acting Senior Petty Officer by the GDF. The other medalist for Guyana earned bronze in their respective events.
Juman-Yassin’s opinions were echoed by Chef-De-Mission of the sojourn, Keavon Bess and Secretary General of the GOA, Hector Edwards.
Said Bess “We cannot continue doing the same things that we did in the past and expect to have different results. The athletes want to win and do the country proud but unless we provide more tangible support, then things will remain
the same and we would never get on the same level as Jamaica or Trinidad.”
Among the 14 territories that competed inclusive of Aruba (13th) and Suriname (12th), Guyana finished 14th. Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela were the top three nations on the medal table. Colombia finished with 239 in total (94 gold), Brazil ended with 204 total (90 gold). Venezuela had 157 total with 43 being gold.
Edwards highlighted that there is too much ‘lip service’. He reasoned that “We can’t just hope that athletes do well, we have to invest so that we can see returns. If we want to be more successful, more support has to be given to the relevant bodies.”
The opinions were co-signed by coaches, Terrence Poole (boxing) and Robert Chisholm (track and field).
Bess also told the media that each Bolivian medalist was rewarded with $US10, 000 for each bronze, $US20, 000 for a silver and $US30, 000 for a gold.
When quizzed, Juman-Yassin stated that he would like the installation of the long awaited Sports Policy to become a reality while adding “I want to see the GOA, the government and the private sector come together to make our athletes full time. Our athletes need to be rewarded. We also need better infrastructure.”
, Juman-Yassin disclosed that the GOA could be in receipt of two grants valuing $US100, 000 each from the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) for Sports Equipment and Coach Development. He stated that two committees headed by Dr. Karen Pilgrim and Phillip Fernandes have been formed and tasked with making recommendations in order for the GOA to make successful applications for these grants.
Note: This year marked the 11th edition of the South American Games. The first Games were held in 1978 in La Paz, Bolivia. They have since been held every four years, with the most recent edition in 2014 in Santiago, Chile.