Berlin: Smaller Territories excel

Maynard: ‘Smaller Territories made their mark in Berlin’
By Clayton Clarke

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Esther Maynard, president of the Amateur Athletic Association of Barbados, says the 2009 World Championships of Athletics in Berlin was special, not only because her countryman Ryan Brathwaite won gold in the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.14 seconds, but moreso for smaller territories that made their mark on the sport.

Apart from Jamaica, winner of 13 medals, led by Usain Bolt’s sprint double in world record marks of 9.58 (100m) and 19.19 (200m), Brathwaite was top of the pack with his country, Barbados’ first gold medal at this level, with a national record. According to Maynard, one of the region’s foremost technical officials, the Championships was significant as athletes from some of the Caribbean’s smaller territories made finals and won medals.

“When you look at the smaller territories and you see Puerto Rico winning its first medal. You watch this youngster (Javier Culson, 2nd in men’s 400m Hurdles finals) at CAC. Individual athletes like your 400m hurdler (Josanne) Lucas, watching her compete it is very personal because you have been associated with many of these athletes right through from Carifta (Games) when you see them coming as fledging athletes. You see Panama getting its silver medal (Alonso Edwards in the men’s 200m finals), USVI 4th place, (Tabari Henry in the men’s 400m finals). And the camaraderie you have with the officials, some of them that you have known 30 years or more. And these are your friends with a common interest. So you look forward to seeing them and all the very interesting discussions. There is always something to learn, something new to do, something to analyse,” she said.

Maynard believes the region is opening up and the medals are not only being won by Jamaica. Bolt’s double, Shelly-Ann Fraser’s 100m title, Brigitte Foster-Hylton’s 100m hurdles victory, Melaine Walker 400m gold, and the men’s and women’s sprint relay titles, were podium topping finishes for Jamaica in Berlin. Shericka Williams (400m), Veronica Campbell-Brown (200m), Kerron Stewart (100m), women’s 4×400m were other silver medal performances while Delloreen Ennis-London (100m hurdles) and Asafa Powell (100m) took bronze medals.

“Every body is beginning to find a niche. You see expertise coming aboard. Carifta is probably one of the first situations where you begin to analyse performance. Anguilla have a top twelve performer in (Shara) Poctor in the women’s long jump (finals in Berlin). It is opening it up so that there is not this dominance where other people can’t make the mark. And Proctor is still quite very young. She is 22, 23 (years) if that old and there is room for improvement. It is exciting to watch small countries that would never been thought of five, ten years ago making their mark.”