SA GAMES: Guyanese athletes rise above distress to succeed
By Akeem Greene
Bolivia, the South American nation which hosted the 11th edition of the South America Games from May 26 to June 8 in the city of Cochabamba, is roughly 8,398 feet above sea level.
For Guyanese athletes who reside on the coastal plain, which is approximately six feet below sea level, Bolivia became a gigantic step up for the 11 who represented the country at the Games.
At a press conference on Tuesday (June 12), organised by the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA), the general consensus among athletes and coaches was premised on how negatively, the prevailing climate impacted their participation.
For Guyana the star of the Games was Javelin thrower, Leslain Baird, who won silver with a new national record of 78.65m in his final attempt to finish behind Colombia’s Arley Ibarguen, who took gold with an attempt of 80.11m.
Initially, the distance was the new South American record until Ibarguen made his mark.
Baird, who battled a hip injury and had to be carried off the field in a stretcher, explained that the cold temperature, along with the lack of oxygen due to the high altitude made it a misery of a competition, but he was bent on giving his best.
Boxers Keevin Allicock (56 kg) and Colin Lewis (65kg) won bronze in their respective divisions. Allicock, too echoed the words of Baird and noted how himself and Lewis, who were under the guidance of coach Terrence Poole, would wake in the dark at 05:00h just to begin training.
The 2017 Junior Sportsman-of-the-Year further noted many times he was winded during fights which gave room for opponents to dominate.
Sprinter Akeem Stewart, who on his first outing representing the country did not manage to progress to the semi-stage in the 100m, asked that national teams leave earlier to acclimatise. Stewart further pointed to the language barrier as another shortcoming.
Guyana was represented in four disciplines (Badminton, Boxing, Table Tennis and Track and Field) by 11 athletes at the Games with Chef-De-Mission being Keavon Bess.
The other athletes were Narayan Ramdhani (Badminton), table tennis players Shemar Britton, Chelsea Edghill, Natalie Cummings and Trenace Lowe along with track and field athletes, Jenea McCammon and Winston George, who respectively won bronze in the 110m hurdles and the Men’s 400m.