Young rower Christian Howard has created history as the first Barbadian to qualify for the 2022 World Rowing Coastal Championship and Beach Sprints scheduled for October 7th to 16th in Wales, England.
The 26-year-old has been hard at training over the past couple of months and is confident of securing one of the top three podium finishes for Barbados in either the 500m beach sprint, or the six or ten kilometres races.
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, Howard who has been part of the Rowing Association of Barbados (RAB) since 2015 explained that this undertaking will cost BDS$80, 000 to fund him and his team for six weeks. Bearing in mind he has to travel firstly to train in Spain around August for two weeks to get himself acclimatized before departing for Wales to compete in October.
“To be honest it feels good to be doing it (rowing) especially as the first person in Barbados to qualify in this particular event and to compete in such a sport that requires such strict training, it feels good to be competing. But that financial support is going to be crucial if I am to travel and compete,” Howard said.
Currently in Lima, Peru, at a high-performance centre continuing his training, Howard who returns to Barbados on Saturday, July 9, revealed that American coach Marc Oria invited him to train around August in Spain.
President of the RAB, Dr Anthony Yarde who is also in Peru with Howard as coach highlighted the importance of having the young man attend this high-performance training in Spain.
“The reason for that $80, 000 is not just Christian going alone. In other sports the athlete may be able to go alone but because of the requirements of rowing and because of the requirements of the coastal and beach sprint, each rower or each team or each country is required to have at least two boat handlers and a team manager.
“Some people may say $80, 000 sounds like a lot but when you consider air tickets from Barbados to Spain for roughly four to five persons and then from Spain to Wales for those same persons and then back to Barbados. There is also accommodation, food, and insurance because even though you rent the boats you still have to pay insurance on them. Then you have to look at the gear that is needed for Christian in that climate. There are a lot of things we have to look at but we would be grateful for whatever financial assistance is rendered.
“Going to Spain is to acclimatize Christian and the team because it will be cold in October, especially in Wales. So, he needs to acclimatize before the event because it is going to be brutal but we feel we have a good chance to sit on the podium. The other reason we are going so early is that the water is not as flat as Barbados water. So, there are a lot of choppy waves that Christian would have to be rowing in and therefore we need to have him familiar with that type of climate and environment,” Yarde explained.
The RAB President also thanked the Barbados Olympic Association as well as the National Sports Council for their tremendous support. Yarde is now calling on the Minister of Sports Charles Griffith and corporate Barbados to assist Howard on his quest to become the first Barbadian medalist at the World Rowing Coastal Championship and Beach Sprints.
“The Barbados Olympic Association has been extremely gracious in sending us here twice for this training, so we want to give kudos by thanking them. Also, we have gotten a stipend from the National Sports Council and that is because we went to them late but we anticipate better support from the council. But we are hoping that the government through the Arts and Sports funds and the Minister of Sports will assist not only in kind words but financially as well,” Yarde added.
He noted that while Howard has come a long way some technical areas must be rectified. He also pointed out that it is not just the travels but also accommodations, meals, insurance of boats as well as other physical and psychological needs that Howard may require such as a physiotherapist, Chiropractic and mental health trainer.
“We have a pathway on our way to Wales and among those is cleaning up some of the technical errors which Christian has because though he has been rowing very well, we needed to clean up some of the strokes, we needed to deal with handling the boat, etcetera. So, the first stop was Lima, Peru at the High-Performance Centre and some issues needed to be corrected.
“We had to get him into a Chiropractic to deal with some places that needed to go back into the right positions. Then we had to get a mental trainer where he had his motivational sessions which is all part of getting him into the right frame of mind for a high-performance level. And all of that came with a cost that we did not anticipate but however we are here and would not complain,” he told Barbados TODAY. [email protected]