The dust has settled after the 2012 London Olympics and predictable utterances have started to pour forth from the mouths of sports administrators and politicians. At the end of every Olympiad you can bet on the sports administrators who rush to speak authoritatively about what is required to prepare for the next Olympics. This time around it is a Gline Clarke reported to be the Chief Operating Officer of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA). In a press conference today he trumpeted that the BOA will be consulting with key sports agencies to build out a 4-year program to prepare athletes for Rio, Brazil.
BU finds it amusing that a spokesman of the BOA would suddenly be enlightened to the fact that preparation for Olympics requires robust preparation. By reading between the lines BU gleaned that the practice has been for the BOA to support a 2-year program (BU is willing to apologize on this point). Surely an organization established since the 1960s should not be scrambling to mobilize any program to adequately prepare sporting agencies for upcoming Olympic Games. Also of concern to BU is that BOA is leading the effort to plan for Rio. BOA has the deep pockets to fund the several sports agencies all agree but its role should be defined within the framework of a national strategy for sports.
Steve Stoute has been in a leadership role of the BOA since 1968, he needs to relieve himself of office for two reasons. Forty years is too long to lead anything or anyone. Secondly the ass-covering Big Interview he gave to the press on the weekend is the other reason. A scan of the BOA Executive reveals individuals who should be able to make the step up. Note that we have bypassed Ralph ‘Bruggadung’ Johnson and Austin Sealy who similarly disqualify themselves because of the long periods served as Vice President and IOC Member respectively. BU makes the observation for what it is worth that the two top positions of the BOA are occupied by ‘Bajan Whites’.
Jamaica and Bahamas to a lesser extent have discovered a formula for success at the highest level. A few of the other islands have had intermittent successes. What should be evident from back of the envelope analysis is the nexus which Jamaican and Bahamian athletes have with US universities and the collegiate circuit. A commonsense approach by the BOA is to build strong local sports programs while at the same time building relationships with USA universities. In some cases based on the sporting disciplines universities in other countries should be included. After the success of Caribbean athletes at the London Games overseas universities should be bullish to such an arrangement. But first we need to infuse the BOA and many of our sports association with new blood. The Minister of Sports must used the full weight of the office to build out a national strategy for sports. It should not be made into a political football!
BU understands all the arguments which mitigate against Barbados producing a significant number of world class athletes. All we are suggesting is that we can do better with the resources we have. If we doubt what the possibilities are have a look at the progression which countries – some smaller and less well off financially – in the region has made compared to Barbados in the last four years.