“Don’t just settle for being the best in your country.”
Those were the words of advice given to Barbadian athletes by Olympic icon, Carl Lewis, the featured speaker at the 2016 Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) and FLOW annual awards ceremony held last night at the Needham’s Ballroom, Hilton.
Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, BOA President, Steve Stoute, former Barbadian Olympian and now member of the International Olympic Committee, Sir Austin Sealy shared the night with a number of specially invited guests that included FLOW’s, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, Marilyn Sealy, to witness Olympians, Akela Jones and Michael Maskell being awarded Senior Athletes of the Year.
During an inspirational speech about his path to success, the former sprinter and long jumper encouraged all athletes to set their ultimate goal to be the absolute best they can be like he did at the height of his career.
“What do you want to say that you have accomplished when you are 40 years old when you retired, what do you want to say that you have been? Think about that now because it heightens what you want to accomplish every day.
“We always talk about goals which are so important, we want to set goals every year, I want to win the Olympic Games, I want to be a world champion but guess what, you can’t control if you are an Olympic or World champion. I never controlled that but what you can control is the excellence you try to achieve.” the 55-year-old said.
Lewis, the personal coach of Barbadian sprinter Mario Burke, who is currently based at Houston University, is one of the most successful athletes of all time, having competed at four Olympic Games, winning nine gold medals, including four at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
He also encouraged local athletes to remain focused in the face of challenges.
“Once you get recognized with your awards, there is not one award on that table that would win your next competition. You will. That’s just telling you what you’ve done, you have to go out every day and do what you want to do, so I challenge you to be excellent all the time.
“Set those goals, make sure it’s about being the best that you can be, be accountable for what you want to do, put yourself out there, put yourself on what you want to be, let people know how great you want to be, what you want to achieve and then demand the people around you to help you get there because it is a tough challenge,” Lewis said.
He also had some encouraging words for local sporting federations, saying: “The challenge isn’t just financial support for the athletes, its working together to create a viable middle class so they can earn a living and understand how to make their future successful because we get to where we say we need more funding to give to the athletes. If we actually create an environment where the athletes can earn a living and earn their way that would be better long term for them.”
During his opening remarks, BOA President, Stoute highlighted what was an active year for Barbadian sport, saying, “I am pleased to announce that during 2016, thanks to the support of the Ministry of Finance and the Barbados Lottery, our BOA funding programmes and scholarships continued steadily. Our Olympic Academy also increased its activities in coaching, sports management and anti-substance abuse programmes.
“So much so that we are now one of the few national Olympic Committees in the region to be conducting the International Olympic Committees advanced nine administrative course. We have also partnered with the Coaching Association of Canada to enhance our local coaching capacity and continue to strengthen our sporting infrastructure.”
Meanwhile director of communications at FLOW, Sealy said her company is proud of the remarkable achievements of Barbadian athletes at the local, regional and international level.
She added that they were pleased to enter into a partnership with the BOA last year for sponsorship valued at close to $750,000.
In addition to Jones and Maskell, other awardees were as follows:
Outstanding Junior Athletes
Sada Williams – Athletics
Shae Martin- Badminton
Amanda Haywood – Badminton and Squash
Che Allan – Surfing
Junior Female Athlete of the Year
Junior Male Athlete of the Year
Independence Games Awards 2016 Champion
Best Overall Sport – Judo
Most Improved Sport – Weightlifting
Outstanding Junior Athlete – Amanda Haywood (Badminton and Squash)
Special Mention – Rebecca Williams – Wrestling
2016 Champion Swimming (Female) – Ashley Weekes
2016 Champion Swimming (Male) – Nkosi Dunwoody
2016 Champion Rugby (Female) – Danielle Phillips
2016 Champion Rugby (Male) – Sean Ward
Athletes Celebrating 50 Years of CAC Glory
Special Recognition Celebrating 50 Years of CAC and Commonwealth Games Glory
Special Individual Recognition
Chelsea Tuach, Surfing
Roberta Foster, Equestrian
Darian King, Tennis
Edwin Sutherland, Cycling