Former world 110m hurdles champion Ryan Brathwaite says broken promises made to him by Barbadian officials have proven to be among his greatest recent obstacles to scale.
The national champion who brought glory to Barbados nine years ago said that besides the Nissan X-trail jeep given to him having attained gold at the 2009 World Games in Berlin, Germany, he was yet to receive his ambassadorship and plot of land promised to him by the Government of Barbados in conjunction with Sir Charles Williams.
“Up to now I haven’t received the land as yet or my ambassadorship and nothing has been communicated back to me about it. The Jeep was the only thing given by the Government and Courtesy. All I am hearing is ‘Ryan did this and Ryan did that’ but a lot of stuff wasn’t even given to me,” Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY in a wide-ranging interview.
“It really bothers me. People aren’t really upfront with certain stuff, they just smile in your face. If I am assigned as a sports ambassador, I should be playing some sort of role in the development of that sport. But I am not involved because of lack of communication and it really upsets me.
“I have worked hard for this country, I worked hard for myself and in return it’s just disrespect or rather lack of respect but yet we as athletes are expected to go out there and perform. Even with the UWI [University of the West Indies] track, Ryan Brathwaite track. A lot of stuff was not explained where that is concerned either,” he said, while charging that Barbados’ top athletes are being treated unfairly and pointed to himself as a perfect example.
Presented with the Insignia for the Silver Crown of Merit by the then Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave back in 2012, Brathwaite said as an ambassador he was unsure whether he was even entitled to Duty-Free status, something that quite a few elite athletes in Barbados have been crying out about for months including the country’s highest rank tennis player, Darian King.
“When I received my Silver Crown of Merit, nothing was explained to me, everything was just pushed at me. I am yet to understand what is my role in relation to doing certain stuff. Duty-Free concessions, I don’t even know if I have that and whenever I ask questions, they [officials] aren’t sure. You go to the Ministry of Finance and they tell you to go to the Ministry of Sports. So there is a lot of stuff that needs to be dealt with and that needs to be upfront,” Brathwaite explained, while stressing that a lot more needed to be done for the development of Barbados’ track and field.
“I think they need to have some type of programme, they need to get facilities up and running, they need persons to consult with, which they never came to me to seek advice either [as an ambassador] and I have a lot of contacts overseas.
That is why I started my own sports management business which is still in its early stage, to help the upcoming athletes, so that they in return would not be treated unfairly,” he said.
Brathwaite added: “You go out there and do what you have to do and they hop on [the bandwagon] trying to help you. But when you actually come down a bit or you are not that high up anymore in the sport and you drop a bit, they think that it is over and that is one of the biggest issues our athletes face right now. When you are on top they are all high of praises for you, when you are down it’s just about them.”
The 29-year-old said he was not about to call it quits just yet as his eyes were set on competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo Japan before calling it a day in the sport he loves dearly.
“I am trying to get myself back out there in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games and then retire. Just trying to get myself in a position that I could actually get my name back out there.
“I am just looking to get my times up to standard and qualify in the early and run a couple international meets like the Grand Prix. It is all about improving my times right now,” he said while concluding that, “Sometimes funds do come, but at the moment I have been funding myself in order to move forward with my preparations.”
Efforts to reach Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley were unsuccessful up to publication time.