Thirty medals and an overall fourth position in team competition at the just concluded Caribbean Badminton Championships in Aruba, has provided ample evidence that the sport is heading in the right direction in Barbados.
The Barbados team returned home last night with six gold medals along with 12 silver and bronze respectively. Despite not placing in the top three of the team competition won by the Dominican Republic, with Guyana second and Suriname third, Barbados have every reason to hold their heads high, especially coaches Kelvin Mallett, Caroline Vaughan and Shakeira Waithe.
Speaking withBarbados TODAYat the Grantley Adams International Airport, manager of the team Rhonda Scantlebury said compared to last year when they brought home only 13 medals, the team surpassed all expectations and therefore she was happy with the performance.
“It was an exhilarating time because we did much better than last year when we got thirteen medals in total from both juniors and seniors. But this year we got thirty medals to surpass what we had last year. One of our main rivals has been Dominican Republic and we are actually rivalling them now because we were beating them left, right and center. So we are over the moon about that,” Scantlebury said.
The Barbados Badminton Association already has its focus set on bringing home more medals come next year when the tournament is played in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We need to have a post-CAREBACO training first and foremost to go through all the dos and don’ts, where we went wrong, where we fell down, because there were opportunities where we could have done better. So we have to reassess and then go from there; start training, so that our medal total next year could even be better,” she explained.
Coach of the junior team Shakeira Waithe told Barbados TODAYthis year they had seen a tremendous improvement and it was not just in relation to medals but the fact that Barbados ranked so high among the best in the region.
“It has been a tremendous improvement from last year and this is not only where medals are concerned, but Dominican Republic is one of the strongest teams in the Caribbean and we are actually up there with them. We actually beat some of Aruba players and the ones that we did not defeat like their top juniors we actually came close to beating them. It is just a matter of fine-tuning a few little things,” Waithe expressed.
She said going forward they would look to incorporate mental training that was essential to the players’ development.
“We realize that is a big part of the game. We do a little [mental training] but that is close to when tournaments come up. But we want to start conducting those sessions from day one so that moving forward they would know how to handle themselves where mental stuff is concerned,” she said.
Barbados claimed gold in senior mixed doubles through Dakeil Thorpe and Tamisha Williams. There were many other outstanding performances that came in the under-19 division when the home side won two more gold medals in mixed doubles with Shae Martin and Amanda Haywood and then when Martin teamed up with Keshem Moore to win the doubles.
Martin and Haywood also had good individual performances where they both earned silver in the under-17 and under-19 age groups respectively. The medal count continued to mount when the Bajans won gold in the under-11 and under-15 boys doubles.
Thorpe and Williams are the reigning national champions in mixed doubles and therefore knew what to expect from each other.
“We used to play together before but then we had switched partners so it is only this year, about five months to be exact, that we are back playing with each other. It was not hard, we always had that chemistry so it was quite easy,” he explained.
Adding to that Williams said: “Dakeil settled me because I tend to get really nervous in big moments. So he settled me, we went through our strokes before the game and that helped a lot going into the game. I just set it up for him to take big smashes and target the weakest player.”
Martin and Haywood who are junior to Williams and Thorpe, said they were like brother and sister and that made playing together a lot easier.