At the moment none of Barbados’ top athletes including medal hopeful and this country’s first Pan American Games gold medalist in the 110m hurdles Shane Brathwaite, has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in Japan.
The qualifying period started in January 2018 and ends the first week of July. However, the Barbados Olympic Association Secretary-General and Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Games, Cameron Burke said this is nothing new, saying that athletes usually step up their performances closer to the qualification deadline.
Burke’s comments came during this morning’s press conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort to announce the partnership between the International Media Content Limited and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation to provide broadcast coverage of the Tokyo Games.
Since Obadele Thompson’s bronze medal performance at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, Barbados has not won a medal. However, 20 years later, the BOA has implemented a strategic plan in an effort to increase its medal count by 2024.
For the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to take place at the multi-purpose stadium in Kasumigaoka, Shinjuku, Japan, Burke said the BOA has budgeted US$350, 000 dollars through the assistance of the International Olympic Committee and the Barbados Lottery to carry a total of 21-member team to the Games.
“Not promising anything but we are starting to see a move in that direction with the medal of Shane Brathwaite at the Pan Am [American] Games which was our first medal. So I think that we are on the road going there. We are right now tracking seven disciplines for qualification for the games. At present we have no one that has qualified for the games as yet.
“This is nothing new to the Olympic committee, as we get closer we then see performances increasing, so we are looking at track and field, swimming, tennis, triathlon, judo boxing and surfing. I can tell you that all the athletes in these disciplines are hard at work,” Burke said.
Three national boxers are expected to depart Barbados next month for Argentina where they will compete for qualification. Burke said track and field athletes had ample opportunity to qualify with the Diamond League scheduled for April 17th in Doha, Qatar.
Additionally, surfing is new on the Olympic calendar and the BOA is looking towards Chelsea Tuach to qualify. Tuach will travel to Australia and New Zealand shortly where she will compete for a chance to earn her ticket for the Games. Failing in her bid to qualify in those two countries, Tuach will have one last chance come May in El Salvador.
Local triathlon star Matthew Wright, tennis ace Darian King who is ranked number one in the Central American and Caribbean region, along with Asa Whitters from judo can all possibly make the Barbados Olympic team.
The question was asked about Akela Jones who seemed to have fallen off the radar and in response, Burke said Jones who represented Barbados at the 2016 Rio Olympics and holds the national records in the heptathlon, pentathlon, high jump and long jump, got injured.
“We sent her to Jamaica last year and since then we have not heard from her as yet. I know that the track and field association [Athletics Association of Barbados] is in the process of having a meeting with her. We in the Olympic Association are awaiting that meeting and a response from the AAB, but she has not been left by the wayside, we are trying to reach out and see what is going on,” Burke said.
As Barbados and the world prepares to take center stage at the Tokyo Olympic Games just six months away, Burke said there has been no official word from the International Olympic Committee as it relates to the coronavirus.
“Nothing official has come from the IOC has yet. Their medical team is working with the authorities in Tokyo to address that problem. I read recently that Tokyo’s organising committee has taken certain steps to limit travel out of China into Tokyo and they too are monitoring the situation. So as far as us in the Olympic Committee and the region have adopted a wait and see attitude. In the interim, flights are being booked, so we still have to make the necessary preparations,” he said.