Pan Am medal prospects not looking good
By Alan Harris
With just under a month to go before the start of the 2011 Pan American Games, Barbados’ chances of winning a medal at the October 14–30 event in Guadalajara, Mexico appear to be thin at best.
Two of Barbados’ most prominent athletes – former 110m hurdles World Champion, Ryan Brathwaite, and former Olympic swimmer, Bradley Ally – have already withdrawn from the event, and it is expected that in the coming days the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) will be naming a truncated team for the region’s largest multi-sport gathering.
Both athletes have attributed their decisions to a lack of mental and physical preparation.
Since winning his World title in 2009, Brathwaite has struggled to maintain his form, and after a disappointing string of results, which culminated with a poor showing at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, the 23-year-old has asked to be exempted from the national team.
Ally, who recently returned to Barbados after extended stints in the United States and France, has also asked that his name be withdrawn.
Two months ago, at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shangai, China, Ally’s best performance was 17th overall in his pet event, the Men’s 200m individual medley. The 24 year-old also finished 40th in the 100m butterfly, and 36th in the 100m backstroke.
His absence will be a big blow to the national team as the swimmer captured Barbados’ lone medal at the 2007 Pan American Games – a bronze in the 200m individual medley.
While the full Barbados team is yet to be announced, Glyne Clarke, the BOA’s Operations Manager, said the official team to Mexico will number in the vicinity of 80 to 90 persons. That figure represents both athletes and officials.
Among them are 32 athletes for the Men’s and Women’s hockey teams; one each for Squash, Men’s Triathlon and Taekwondo; two each for Tennis, Boxing and Badminton; and six each for Swimming and Track & Field.
Squash player Shawn Simpson has already been confirmed, along with tennis players Darian King and Haydn Lewis.
Earlier this year, local Olympic chief Steve Stoute said the selection criteria for regional and international sporting events would be revised.
Stoute, who publicly voiced his displeasure about the country’s mediocre returns in 2010, also indicated that the Pan Am Games would be the final indicator as to how large – or small – the Barbados team to the London 2012 Olympics would be.
At the last edition of the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007, Barbados was represented by a contingent of 65 athletes and 17 officials, with no teams present.
Barbados has claimed 10 medals – 3 silver, 7 bronze – since it began participating at the Pan American Games in 1963.
The BOA will spend in the region of $1 million to send the team to Mexico.