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‘We shall carry the Flag’
By Alan Harris
WITH excellence comes responsibility.
And for three of Barbados’ outstanding athletes, this sentiment echoes true.
Maintaining a tradition which was started with the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in the year 1896, an athlete or an official leads each participating team into the Opening Ceremonies carrying their respective country’s flag.
On Friday night, that custom was continued for this country.
In an inspirational hour-long ceremony at the Barbados Hilton Hotel, the hierarchy of the Barbados Olympic Association was joined by His Excellency Sir Clifford Husbands, Governor General of Barbados, to bestow upon three national athletes the honour of carrying Barbados’ colours at the upcoming Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, the inaugural Youth Olympic Games and the XIX Commonwealth Games.
As he did at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, swimmer Bradley Ali will bear the Barbados flag at the 2010 CAC Games. Judoka Kadijah Maxwell will do the same at the inaugural Youth Olympics and Laurel Browne, captain of the National Netball Team, will carry Barbados’ colours at the XIX Commonwealth Games.
“You epitomise the competitive spirit through your core values, attitudes and performances,” Stephen Lashley, Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, said to the three Standard Bearers during his feature address.
“You serve as an inspiration for this and future generations of our athletes. I urge you to carry our Flag with honour and pride, and rest assured that all of Barbados will celebrate with you when these flags appear at the respective Games and are flown in recognition of the outstanding performances by our athletes.”
A swimmer who possesses great discipline, Bradley Ali started swimming at age four. He is no stranger to the international spotlight and Ali will carry Barbados’ flag at the 2010 CAC Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Inaugurated in Mexico City in 1926, the CAC Games are the oldest regional games and the 2010 edition will be held between July 17 and August 2.
As for Ali, he first rep-resented Barbados at age 11 and in 1997 at the CARIFTA Games, earned seven gold medals and one bronze, breaking the 200m breaststroke record. At his last appearance at the CARIFTA Games, he tallied 11 medals and was garlanded as the “Swimmer of the Meet”. He first competed in the Olympic Games in Athens when he was just 16. He reached the semi-finals and in the same year, broke the USA National High School record in the 200m Individual Medley (IM), a record he still holds today. At the last CAC Games in 2006, he won three gold medals and still holds two records in the 200m IM and the 400m IM, both of which he will be defending next month. At the 2007 Pan American Games, he won Barbados’ first ever swimming medal, taking a bronze in the 200m IM.
As for judoka Kadijah Maxwell, the Standard Bearer for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore (August 14-26), she started the journey in her sport at the tender age of five. In 2006 and at age 12, she was awarded her first brown belt. Her record, at club, national and international level, has been nothing short of outstanding and she won gold at both the Barbados Open and the Caribbean Club Championships in the Bahamas. She is currently a student of Queen’s College.
In contrast to Maxwell who is compact and well-built, Laurel Browne is tall and soars with height. She will be the Standard Bearer for the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India (October 3-14).
The Commonwealth Games started as the Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario in 1930. Barbados first participated in 1954 in Vancouver and has competed at every Games since then.
Browne started playing netball when she was nine years old and at age 13 joined Structural Systems Silver Raiders Netball Club. She made her debut at the national level in 2002 and in 2008, she captained Barbados’ netball team in St. Vincent and in the Test series held in South Africa.