Some of Barbados’ top senior athletes are unable to travel and participate at the 2022 United States Senior Games but the manager and head coach of Barbados Masters and Seniors Athletic Club (BAMSAC), Dennis Thornhill, is still confident the team will give of their best.
The 13-member unit departed Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday afternoon for the United States to compete at the Games which are slated to commence tomorrow May, 10, inFort Lauderdale.
Thornhill said since BAMSAC began competing at the Games in 2011 they have had some very outstanding performances and the club has always been a force to reckon with as they have been very active over the years.
However, this time around they had some challenges with preparation because of the COVID-19 pandemic but remain optimistic.
“Unfortunately, our team is not at its strongest right now as two of our top athletes are not able to travel with us this year. Those are Pearl Yearwood and Erma Thornhill. However, we still have excellent athletes going and that includes Sandra Murray, our star in the field Angela Jackson always does well in the Shot Put and Discus, and our very own Barney Brathwaite,” he explained.
Thornhill added: “Our exercising was limited during the Covid period and we had to exercise using Zoom just to keep fit but whenever there was an opening we took to the beach. We have been preparing for these games since September last year. Normally we would have prepared a whole year in advance but because of Covid we were limited.”
According to Thornhill, BAMSAC’s last outing at the United States Senior Games would have been in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2019.
“We participate in senior athletics in Barbados and have done so for the last ten years, competing first in the National Senior Games in 2010 and also have been participating in the US National Senior Games since 2011,” he said.
BAMSAC has a membership of 107 with ages ranging from 40 to 90 years old. However, for the US Senior Games, the 13 competing athletes are from 50 to 90 years old.
Senior national athletes Beverly Beckles, competing for the third time at the US Senior Games and Angela Holder are both ready and raring to go. Beckles shared she will be doing the five kilometres power walk along with the 100m and 200m races and noted that she feels good returning to the track after a break because of the COVID-19 situation. She revealed that the team intended to follow their protocols and wear masks even if the others around them aren’t.
“I feel good about returning to the track. During Covid, we operated in a bubble and did what we had to do to stay fit, but in a very safe and secure way. We have decided that when we get there, even if no one is wearing a mask there, we will follow our own protocols and continue to wear them, except when competing.
“This type of club is very important to seniors and since joining the club, I have witnessed some people who have had NCDs, not just reduce medication but also have not needed medication after a while. It is not just about the games but also about the benefits to the body holistically,” Beckles explained.
“The games overseas are at a higher level and it gives us the opportunity to rub shoulders and compete with other seniors and some of them include past Olympians,” she added.
Meanwhile, Angela Holder is slated to compete in the 1500m walk on the track, five-kilometre walk, 50m and 100m sprints and said she had trained hard.
“I tried hard to train when I could, usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and tried to put in some strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it has been quite hectic.
“As a senior, one of the reasons I joined the club was that I did not want to get any Non-communicable diseases and so far I have been lucky that I have not had to deal with any. This type of club is important. After the school years of athletics, you do not see any clubs for people reaching midlife and that is one of the reasons we started this club,” Beckles stated.
She advised fellow senior citizens to start exercising saying, “To people my age, all seniors, just start where you are at and we as a club accept you where you are at.”