Barbados will continue to send athletes to international meets, even if they continue to return with little silverware.
That is according to this island’s Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, who has insisted that medals are not the only benchmark by which athletes should be measured.
His comments come on the heels of Barbados’ poor showing at last year’s Commonwealth and Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games’ meets.
The island sent a hundred-plus contingent to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, but returned with only one bronze medal, while the 95 athletes which attended the CAC Games in Mexico in November copped just four medals.
However, Lashley explained to Barbados TODAY that while winning medals was ideal, it should not be the only way in which an athlete’s performance is rated.
“While I believe that Barbados would want to earn medals at meets and international events, and I would certainly be one to be very proud of our athletes when they win medals for Barbados, I do not believe that is the only end result or criteria for participation,” he insisted.
“I think Barbados is a small country. Per capita, when you compare us to other countries which have larger populations, we still do quite well. There is the need of course to do even better, but I think we have to work with our athletes and work with the federations.
“I think the federations are aware that there is a need to accelerate the various training programmes…but it is only by sheer hard work that we will actually get the medals. Not allowing our athletes and large contingents to go to international events is not the way to go,” the Minister stated.
Lashley said there was no quick fix in preparing athletes to compete at the highest level. He argued that exposing them to more meets was necessary if they were to become competitive at that level.
And while he admitted it was a costly investment by Government to make, he outlined that one of the ways in which money could be saved was by hosting regional and international meets at the National Stadium.
For this to occur though, Lashley pointed out there would need to be some major renovations to the island’s main athletic facility.
The minister revealed discussions had already begun between Barbados and Cuba, as it related to hosting a joint meet.
“One of the things which we have to do is to find ways to expose our athletes to more international competition.
“We are keen and very focused on redeveloping the National Stadium so that right here at home we can stage international and regional meets,” he noted.
“One of the things which we are looking at is to discuss with some regional Governments, to have games with other countries to allow our athletes to gain that exposure.”
He disclosed that having spent over $2.5 million to repair the track in 2012, upgrades to the cycling velodrome and seating areas were in the works.
Lashley said the renovations would also be done on the nearby Netball Stadium.