A contingent of 87 athletes is set to represent Guyana at the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Barranquilla, Colombia from July 19 to August 3, 2018.
It is the largest number of athletes from South America’s only English-speaking country to ever appear at the games and the quest is obviously to collect Guyana’s most significant medal count.
“This is the largest contingent we have ever had attend the CAC Games,” Chef-de-Mission, Dion Nurse told Stabroek Sports during a recent interview.
“Preparations, I would say, are pretty much on target. The first team is expected to leave [Guyana] sometime around the 17thJuly because squash, table tennis, hockey and swimming are due to start on the 20thJuly so they will have to be there to get themselves in competition mode,” Nurse, who is also the Assistant Secretary/Treasurer of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) added.
The 87 athletes will be spread across 10 disciplines namely badminton, boxing, taekwondo, squash, cycling, table tennis, hockey (male and female), rugby, swimming, and athletics.
The size of the contingent, however, is credited to the performances of the athletes, all of whom in some shape or form met the requirements to participate in the Barranquilla Games.
“Our participation at all games always depends on the athletes’ ability to make the qualifying standards for the various sport disciplines,” Nurse explained while adding, “on this occasion, what has made our contingent this large is the fact that we have five sports which have qualifying teams – rugby, hockey (male and female), table tennis (male and female), squash and badminton.”
Asked about his expectations for Guyana since it is the largest ever contingent which should increase Guyana’s prospects of medalling, coupled with the fact that Guyana displayed credible performances during their different qualifying events, Nurse while he shied away from adding pressure on the athletes to perform, only requested that they to add to Guyana’s rich history at the games.
“From the perspective of the GOA, we want the athletes to go there and do their best and in some instances, beyond their best.
“We have had a rich history at the CAC Games and the last occasion we would have collected a couple of medals, and we’d just like to better that. I can’t say that we’ll go there and win anything, but I know that we can win.
“Rugby is expected to do well, we’ve always done well in squash, we’re hoping that the hockey team can do something as a result of their performance at the last Caribbean championships, so we expect good returns from our athletes,” Nurse a national powerlifter remarked.
Guyana’s rugby teams have always competed admirably in and around the region. The hockey teams, on the other hand, on current form can also work their way onto the podium, especially the females who recently displayed excellent form in the just concluded Barbados Hockey Federation (BHF) international female hockey series.
The squash court will see Mary Fung-A-Fat, Taylor Fernandes, Jason Ray Kahlil and Nyron Joseph leading a strong squash unit.
Meanwhile, Keevin Allicock and Colin Lewis will look to land crucial blows in the boxing ring and the Ramdani siblings, Narayan and Priyanna, will look to outfox their opponents when the badminton event swings into action.
Similarly, Guyana table tennis contingent is also expected to field a strong team with the likes of Christopher Franklin, Chelsea Edghill, Shemar Britton, Trenace Lowe, Nigel Bryant, and Natalie Cummings all expected to do well.
Guyana, at the 22nd edition of the games which was held in Mexico four years ago, collected two medals.