Senior national coach Alwyn Babb is not surprised that so far none of Barbados’ hopefuls has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. But he also believes that it is not too late.
“I am not surprised because the international and regional competitions since March (2020) have been closed down. Right at the beginning of the outdoor season which begins traditionally in March, I believe that countries were closed and limited travel was happening because of COVID.
“So, I am not surprised that we have not had any qualifiers as yet. We are seeing a resumption of competition now on the indoor circuit where the NCAA has started. I suspect that once that happens other international bodies and organisations will press ahead as normal,” Babb told Barbados TODAY.
He added: “I believe once our senior athletes who are Olympic hopefuls are exposed to the chances of training and competition (they will qualify). Because I think some of them who are looking to qualify are based outside, with the exception of one or two who are still here. We may see that change prior to the Olympics.”
Several good prospects can possibly qualify. They are sprinter Mario Burke, Pan Am gold medallist and 110m hurdler Shane Brathwaite, 400m runner Jonathan Jones and jumper Akela Jones who has recently taken up training overseas.
These are among a few that Babb expects to make a mark and qualify over the next few months for this year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The veteran coach is also in support of the decision taken by BOA to implement a medical task force for the upcoming Olympics.
Babb noted that taking vaccines to travel has been around for some time now. And even though our national athletes may be sceptical about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, Babb said taking the vaccine was nothing new. In the past, there have been other viruses and diseases for which vaccines were administered and which allowed athletes to travel and compete.
“I believe that we have to plan for all eventualities. Having to travel on airlines from place to place you are opening up yourself to the chances of catching the virus. You don’t want to be caught napping and must be prepared for any eventuality so that athletes can be treated as quickly as possible.
“There was a time when I was going to Brazil that we had to be vaccinated for yellow fever or malaria. So, probably that was one of the requirements. But we can well understand the scepticism with a new vaccine for COVID that has not been tested and the safety is under question. So I can understand the reluctance as well,” Babb explained.
The founder of Rising Stars Track and Field Club also addressed the need for local athletes to keep training. Babb called on the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit to grant permission for clubs to resume training their athletes.
“I have noticed funerals that are held indoors and there have been outdoors that limited numbers were okayed by the COVID Unit. I am hoping that not training does not extend for any long period. We are hoping that training can occur even if the numbers at any given training session are limited because we are outdoors.
“With an outdoor activity like training, I believe that it would be best for us not to fall further behind. And consideration should be given to the numbers which would be at any given training session. Clubs and coaches would be responsible for taking the register of those persons who attend.
“Also, the reinforcement of hand-sanitising, the physical distance, using of your own equipment, temperature checks before training can be incorporated. But to have a successful season whenever we start, we cannot have training not being held,” he said.
Also, Babb says he foresees that some athletes may lose interest with the pressure of online teaching and the limited time to complete assignments.
Hence the reason he is strongly advocating for the powers that be to allow for the athletes to resume training. This is in an effort to ensure they do not lose interest or that their level of fitness does not fall off.
“There must be an outlet. This is the new environment that we have now gotten into where we are fully online. From talking to some students, the frustration level and then the mental side of it have been greatly affected.
“And I believe that for those athletes and persons who are into physical activities that the training, having the opportunity to get away from the computer and to get out there and get back into that physical side of what they are accustomed to is needed,” Babb added.