Four athletes were named as part of Barbados’ contingent for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games to be held next month in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) general manager and chef de mission to the Olympic games, Glyne Clarke, made the announcement this morning during a press briefing attended by Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sport, John King, BOA president Sandra Osborne and Daneka Headley who was appointed as an International Olympic Committee Young Change Maker.
Out of the 206 participating countries, 4000 athletes competing in 32 disciplines, talented 16-year-olds Sarah Belle of Christ Church Foundation School and Darian Clarke of the St Michael School will look to put Barbados on the world map with a podium finish in the Girls 100m hurdles and Boys 100m respectively.
The other two athletes wearing national colours are swimmers Jack Kirby and Luis Sebastian-Weekes both based at colleges in the United States of America. Kirby currently holds the national record of 26.07 seconds in the men’s 50m backstroke, which was set July this year in Barranquilla, Colombia, at the Central American and Caribbean Championships.
It is expected that 18-year-old Kirby based at Tennessee University will, therefore, give an energetic performance to improve on that record time while also giving it his all in three other events that include the 100m backstroke, the 50m and 100m freestyle.
Meanwhile, Sebastian-Weekes another household name currently at Kenyon College in Ohio, USA, will hope for a top-three finish when he takes to the pool for a competitive splash in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley.
Belle told the media she was excited about the opportunity and intended to make the most of it. While Clarke made the point that as a boy who lives in Indian Ground, St Peter, not many in his age group were that fortunate to be recognized and he was happy for the chance to represent his country.
And if the reassurances from Minister King come to fruition then many more young upcoming athletes will be afforded the same opportunity as Belle and Clarke to represent Barbados.
During his remarks, King said: “I really want to say how proud I am that you’ve made it to the Youth Olympics, the very first one in this hemisphere. Every time you open the news you can see Barbadian sportsmen, somewhere, some part of the world winning medals. This says that in the midst of all the stuff that has been going on, that our sportspersons continue against all the odds to progress. Which means that it is left to the ministry to give you the extra support that you need. I want to tell you this morning that you have that support.”
Osborne explained that the qualifying standard for the games had been onerous and commended the athletes on their achievement.
She said: “The Youth Olympic Games carry a special significance as it gives our young athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 an opportunity to compete with the best in the world as a precursor to the senior competition. Barbados has not missed an opportunity to participate in these games and to expose our juniors to international competition.
The whole idea of medalling is a different issue but I think we first have to recognize the fact that these have qualified for the games and this is a significant achievement in itself and I wish to congratulate them.”
Argentina’s ambassador to Barbados, Gustavo Pandiani, also had words of encouragement for the athletes. While informing them about what to expect when attending the games in his homeland, Pandiani also told them that they were true ambassadors.
“Together with your enthusiasm for the sport and the passion you have for it, you bear the responsibility of representing your country, not only in my country but also in the world. The press is going to be there and you are the real ambassadors for Barbados…You represent the youth, your culture, the sport and most of all you represent the passion for something. The slogan of these games is Feel The Future. I think you have achieved many things, the fact that you have been selected and qualified for these games is enough to feel proud. The only thing left to do now is to go there and make your country prouder, do everything you can to be at the top level,” Pandiani said.
Other members of the delegation include team doctor Carl Ward, athletics coach and manager Brian Holder, swimming coach and manager, Aisha Norville.