EXCLUSIVE: George questions AAG efficiency after visa fiasco

- As a native born Guyanese I am deeply disappointed and frustrated by the attitude of the AAG

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By Treiston Joseph

One might have seen Olympian Winston George’s 400 and 200m performances at the just concluded World Championships in London and questioned the legitimacy of his attendance at the meet, but in truth George’s returns were hampered by a much deeper problem that gave way to his performances.

Before I share the comments of George, let me quickly remind the public that George has been getting faster with each race this season, with his final race before the London games being a national record run over 400m on home soil (45.16s) and a personal best 200m time of 20.41s.

George also spent his own money to attend the South American Senior Championships where he won gold for this nation without even a thank you from the association or the government, sadly so.

George was a man in form, a man on a mission and then the final hurdle, communication with the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) that seemingly provided every stumbling block for George to not attend the London games.

Whether those stumbling blocks were intentional or not, George opened up on the issues he faced with the AAG a few weeks before one of the grandest stages in athletics.

“There is a major issue with regard to communication and assistance for senior level competition.  I qualified very early for the championship and my visa process could have been started earlier instead of developing into a situation which clearly hampered my preparations. That to me is unacceptable in this age of electronic instantaneous communication,” George told News Room Sport in an exclusive interview.

He continued, “Why did I only receive a copy of my invitation to the World Championships the week that it was starting? The document was dated much earlier.”

George then went onto reveal part of the process to gain his visa even after the AAG received his invitation weeks in advance.

“I had to send 300 US dollars to the AAG to expedite the process for getting a visa. In the end, it was only through the efforts of my coach (Joe Ryan), Ms. (Aliann) Pompey, and my agent that I was able to get the visa in time. They communicated with people who could get this done. How is it they got this done in a few days after expending a lot of time and effort? That’s the AAG’s job not theirs,” George queried.

He added, “Communication, provision of information to secure documents, travel arrangements were a mystery to me and the people who support me. My whole training was geared towards turning in a performance in London. I ran a national record and two personal best times at the Aliann Pompey Meet a few weeks ago; yet, I spent days trying to secure a visa in New York when I should have been in London acclimating to the conditions like everybody else. My agent had to purchase the ticket and I got here on Thursday morning (August 3), two days before my competition effectively compromising my preparations.”

George even shared that it was an almost an impossible task to track down AAG President, Aubrey Huston, in order reimburse his agent for the money spent on the ticket to London.

“In addition, the AAG President missed two appointments with me to give me a cheque to reimburse my agent. I had to track him down at the Championships after he missed the second appointment,” George noted.

In addition, George even pinpointed the AAG’s lack of efficiency at regional meets, sharing some of what transpired with the South American Senior competition and even mishaps at the World Championships.

“There has been a pattern of terrible communication and planning for senior athletes. My team paid for my ticket to the SA Champs and even found that our entry was incorrect, a fact picked up by my coach which had an impact on lane placing in the heat. That shouldn’t happen.

“No uniforms were provided by the AAG for the World Championships. Only through the efforts of Ms. Pompey were we provided with a uniform. The whole world is watching this event and this is the best that we can do.  I was not declared to run in the 200m. Again, the IAAF had to contact Ms. Pompey for the declaration,” George revealed.

The top 400m specialist and arguably the most versatile sprinter in the nation pinpointed that he has no ill will with the association, but felt disenfranchised as an athlete representing his nation.

“The only thing I am looking for is fairness. I asked for help only twice this year. The South American Championships and the World Championships. In both cases, the assistance was subpar. Don’t put obstacles in my way. Both myself and my coach are sacrificing a lot of time and effort to make this work.  

“All I want is for them to do is what they are supposed to do for athletes competing in international competitions for my country. As a native born Guyanese I am deeply disappointed and frustrated by the attitude of the AAG. This is also embarrassing for Guyana,” George quipped.

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