OPINION: Our athletes deserve better

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Says Treiston Joseph

This was the scene in the wee hours of Saturday at the National Gymnasium where the national squad for the South American Juniors is currently encamped ahead of the championships, set to be hosted right here in Guyana in a week’s time.

I just want to stress on the point that this is our national squad having to stay in the hot and poorly ventilated barracks at the Mandela Avenue facility, an egregious act by the administrators of the sport.

For those who don’t know, the National Gymnasium without a major crowd is heated much less the barracks that are even more enclosed. No wonder the young men chose to sleep in the bleachers where one wrong turn could possibly cause injuries to these athletes.

While I know of teams staying at the barracks before, I did not realise how poorly ventilated the place was until I experienced it for myself. Which leaves one to question, how serious do our administrators really take our athletes if they subject them to such atrocities?

It is logical that our athletes be given better treatment if optimal performance is expected of them.

It boggles my mind that the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) would believe this is acceptable; because these athletes are home they should be subjected to this? I would want to believe, with no type of research done, that a national encampment in any other nation would not do something this disgraceful to their own.

Should it be accepted because Guyana is a poor nation? This is as bad as the Guyana Rugby Football Union paying grown men US$10 as a stipend to play for their country…in the short hand words of social media SMH!

Scenes like these leave a bad taste in my mouth, especially to know that nothing seems to be changing and it leaves one to wonder about the nutrition of these athletes in preparation of these games, because if their lodging is this bad, imagine the food. (Note, I have not seen or heard about the food).

Nevertheless, one can point to the athletes having accepted these conditions, something that would not happen especially in first world countries, but while I am not speaking on behalf of any athlete at the camp I guess and I can speak from experience these kids just want to run and do well.

Honestly, this is not to make the AAG look bad, but a wake-up call not just to the Association, but to all administrators of the sport. Treat our athletes with the respect they deserve because at the end of the day they are the ones putting their bodies on the line, they are the ones feeling the pain and the hurt after a day’s training but you are the ones basking in their success…so, please treat them like the treasures they are.

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