The time has come for the powers that be in Barbados to start pumping more money into athletics.
This bit of advice has come from says talented top sprint hurdler, Shane Brathwaite, in the wake of his capture of the Barbados Olympic Association’s senior male Athlete-of-the-Year honour.
The 28-year-old Brathwaite argued that not enough was being done to develop track and field and said he wanted to see more investment in the sport.
In recent times there has been public outcry for a new National Stadium, but according to Brathwaite, it was not just the Waterford facility that was needed to lift the sport.
Barbadian athletes, he contended, were being left behind because they lacked not only funding but the essentials that were required to take them to the next level in their respective disciplines.
“With anything you need funding. You can’t get the best with the bare minimum,” said Brathwaite, who was good enough to reach the 110 metres hurdles final of the World Championships in London last year where he eventually finished sixth in 13.32 seconds.
“We need stuff like vitamins, constant treatment, access to nice facilities and being able to travel to track meets and compete with others who are on that same level. That is the only way I can see us getting better.”
He continued: “I was lucky to have an agent out of college, and I get a lot of meets in Europe, but a lot of athletes in Barbados don’t. And I think if we can have some of them compete at that level consistently, I can see our performances improve a lot faster.
“The money is going to get us to those meets that we need to compete with other people and show the talent that we have in Barbados. We have a lot of talent in Barbados, and you can see that by our 4x100m relay team is getting faster every year.”
Brathwaite, who was also sixth in the sprint hurdles final at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April, said local athletes needed an international setting in order to properly develop.
“I think what helps these athletes (Barbadian overseas athletes) is that we are all based in the United States and we get that exposure,” he pointed out.
“The athletes that are based here in Barbados don’t get that, and that’s what they need, and that is what is going to take us to the next level. So, until we can figure out how we can get the funding to go to that next level we are not going anywhere.”
Brathwaite has been in excellent form for 2018 having captured his first ever Central American and Caribbean Games gold medal in July with a season-best time of 13.38 seconds in Barranquilla, Colombia. A month later, he clocked 13.52 for bronze at the National Association of Christian Athletes [NACA] Senior Championships in Toronto, Canada.
Brathwaite then anchored Barbados to gold in the men’s 4×100 metre relay at the NACA Games.
The winning quartet – comprising Brathwaite, Mario Burke, Jaquone Hoyte and Burkheart Ellis Jr – was named the BOA’s team of the year during the annual award ceremony held at Hilton Hotel last week.