Coaching an Olympics team is the pinnacle and one doesn’t get any greater satisfaction than being recognised as good enough to coach a national team on the international stage, says coach Gabriel Burnett.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY, Burnett said that he believes the country could expect the Barbadian contingent at the Olympic Games to give of their best in their respective events. Last week Burnett was confirmed as Barbados’ track and field coach for the Tokyo Olympics which starts on July 23.
“I know there is a lot of chit-chat about athletes not qualifying this year, but the athletes earned the right to represent the country at the Olympics and they will give of their best regardless of the situation or what they have been through in the last year or two. I believe every athlete is going to gear up and look to peak at the Olympics and that is all we can ask of them,” Burnett said today.
Asked who he believed might be Barbados’ shining lights at the Olympics, he suggested hurdlers Shane Brathwaite and Tia-Adana Belle.
“If I were put on the spot to choose two, I’d choose them (Shane Brathwaite and Tia-Adana Belle). My reason being they are doing hurdles, and anything can happen in the hurdles. Their times have been coming down as they perform,” he said.
The Olympics village will be different this time around with Covid-19 protocols in place to provide a safe haven for the athletes and staff to carry out their events securely. Athletes will be isolated in a bubble-atmosphere in the village and are expected to stay there or be in a similar bubble at venues or training sites. The eight athletes travelling to Tokyo have had sessions with the Barbados Olympic Association to prepare them for life in the bubble and the different environment and are expected to remain professional throughout.
This will be Burnett’s first time as an Olympics coach, but it has been a long time in coming. Burnett began coaching in 2001 at his alma mater, St Augustine University, North Carolina and in his first year had national champions in the hurdles. His coach George Williams officially won national coach of the year but felt that Burnett’s fine work with the athletes merited the award. Burnett still has it now in his trophy case. When he returned to Barbados in 2005, he launched Quantum Leap which has developed BSAC champions, national champions, CARIFTA medallists and Olympians.
Burnett said he hopes all of Barbados will tune in and lend their support to the national athletes on show in Japan.