Questions for AAB after CARIFTA Games

Questions needed to be asked of the Athletics Association of Barbados regarding the state of local track and field, says former Barbados junior national head coach Michael Jules.

In an interview with Nation Online, Jules, who head coach of the 1997 CARIFTA team that won the record 33 medals, said it was very hard to use this year’s tally of 11 – two gold, four silver and six bronze – as an indication that the sport has improved locally as time has gone on.

“I cannot be satisfied with 10 or 11 medals and it’s hard to say that that’s a development. When Barbados travelled to Jamaica for CARIFTA in 1996, we got 26 medals and we haven’t got back to that level since so we really need to examine what is happening. Is it the lack of talent? Is it coaching? I think we have loads of talent. We have shown that when we go to the Central American and Caribbean Games and dominate but when we move up to the next level that is where we have issues.”

Jules, Barbados captain at the 1985 CARIFTA Games, believes part of the problem is down to the relatively small number of athletes that were selected to travel to The Bahamas.

“First of all, I have always felt that we should have a larger team,” he said. “We really need to look for a way of exposing more athletes to CARIFTA. Yes we carried a team of 23 people but not many were able to be in medal positions. I think we really need to look at the areas where we did not even have any representation like our throws. We need to look at how we can improve on our throws and the rest of the field events. As with anything else, the more people you have in anything the chances are a little better for you.”

Aaron Massiah is a double CARIFTA silver medallist this year. (Picture by Jameel Springer)

This year’s team had only two field event competitors – double silver medallist Aaron Massiah in the Under-17 boys’ long and triple jump, and Asabi Callender who was fourth in the Under-20 girls’ javelin. There were no discus, shot put or high jump qualifiers.

He continued saying that there should have been more attention to the planning of event participation especially when it came to the relays, noting disappointment that Barbados failed to field relay teams in each event.

From left: Kadia Rock, Ariel Archer, Chanecia Bryan and Aniya Nurse won silver in the Under-17 girls’ 4×400 relay. (Picture by Jameel Springer)

“When you look at the fact that those girls who were there from Tuesday just waiting to run one hurdle race, I think they could have been used to make up a relay team. However if you had more athletes then they might have made up that relay team and we could have had a really good shot.

“You also have to consider athletes who go there to run for example the 100 and 200 metre events which means they have to do rounds. Then you have to call on them to also run a relay but you left home people who might have done well. These are all things to consider.”

A major step towards rectifying the issue of low medal tallies lies in talent identification, which is an area sorely lacking in Barbados according to Jules.

“Go around and see who are the individuals talented enough. Let us say tall young men and women who will probably be fighting with a sport like basketball, volleyball or netball. We have to identify those individuals and prepare them for maybe high jump. Over the years we’ve done well in javelin because our cricketers who bowled were also able to throw the javelin. Those are the kinds of things we need to do. Go out there and seek talent then work with talent.” (JC)


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