Rickie Williams: The next hinterland shooting star or actual star?

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By Treiston Joseph

“Once I blazed across the sky, leaving trails of flame; I fell to earth, and here I lie – Who’ll help me up again? A Shooting Star” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

What does a shooting star have in common with Ricardo Martin, Regina John, Hezron Pedro and Doretta Wilson; they all burned brightly for a moment and then crashed to the earth; who will help them up again?  (Sound of crickets)

What do all the athletes above have in common? They are all hinterland wonder kids with an exceptional knack for distance running; debuting at the National School Championships and going onto grace the national scene with their brilliance before returning to the part of the atmosphere that they were shot out from, never to be seen in the night’s sky again.

The year is now 2017 and here comes another hinterland wonder kid in Rickie Williams. However, unlike his counterparts, who were from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), Williams is actually from Region One (Barima-Waini); opposite ends of the map.

In addition, Williams also recently benefitted from a scholarship from Chase Academic Foundation, owned by Henry Chase. He is now coached by a man who is regarded as one of the best, if not the best distance coach in Guyana- Leslie Black.

Rickie Williams bows on the track as the first athlete to win an event on a synthetic surface at the National School’s Championships

The National School Championships have started and Williams started similarly to his counterparts above by winning the 10km road race against a reasonably quality field of athletes.

However, while Williams is in a more prominent situation than his mates before him, how often have we seen the lack of development hamper hinterland athletes from becoming true stars like the Cleveland Forde’s of the world?

There are a number of questions one could pose that might query the development plan for athletes finding their way out of hinterland regions. For starters, is there any plan to help these athletes progress their careers?

With specific regards to Williams, what happens when he is done with school, therefore ending his stint at Chase Academy?

Another question that stands out in my mind is what provisions does the sport policy entail for athletes out of hinterland regions? Oh right, there is no sport policy, so let’s scrap that question entirely and go with- what’s the purpose of ‘Nationals’ if such promising talents aren’t honed into actual stars?

Year after year, hinterland athletes show promise and potential at the National School Championships. Some continue to perform at the national level some do not, but eventually like a shooting star their burning flame in the night’s sky lands in some ditch on the earth with no one there to help them up again.

It’s an atrocity in its own right that stakeholders relevant to athletics and the School’s Championships continue to allow.

2017 seems like a reset for ‘Nationals’ with the event moving to a synthetic facility for the time in 57 years; this could prove to be a turning point with regards to the treatment and development of our hinterland athletes.

It is high time that the potential within these regions are discovered, honed and maximised and Rickie Williams is the current burning flame that can change a horrifying trend; a possible patriarch so to speak. 

After all, Williams’ is on the up; when he reaches the apex for once it would be nice to see his star remain in the sky instead of falling like a shooting star and suffering the same fate of those before him.

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