By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
All lawmakers who mentioned the issue agreed that homage should be paid to the British Virgin Islands’ athletes who have been performing relatively well on the international stage in recent times.
But some persons, including Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering and minister responsible for sports Myron Walwyn, have expressed different views on how athletics in the territory should be treated.
Walwyn suggested that the government should fund outstanding athletes like Kyron McMaster.
“We have the raw talent here in the Virgin Islands and it is time for us to come and put a programme together with some money behind of it to ensure that these young people get all the help they can get so that they can become as great as we know they can – and certainly they will be. So I will be bringing something forward to the government to be able to assist those young people,” Walwyn told the House of Assembly a few days ago.
“Jamaica is very proud of their Usain Bolt. They didn’t just start to help Usain Bolt when he came to the top. They saw him rising through the ranks and the government put their money behind Usain Bolt to make him good. And now, when you hear Usain Bolt, you hear Jamaica. And we have many athletes who have that level of talent, and we have to find a way. I am going to bring it (proposal) forward to the government and, if they don’t support me I will tell the people they didn’t support me to help those athletes – take care of them and give them the professional development that they need – spend some money on them because we see the talent,” added Walwyn.
He then made a major prediction about 400M hurdler Kyron McMaster who – up to weeks ago – was said to be ranked the second fastest hurdler over that distance so far this year.
“I am going to make a prediction tonight that the BVI first Olympic medal will come form that young man Kyron McMaster. It is not a simple thing to be the second fastest runner in the world in the 400M hurdles. You see how small Tortola is. We talking about the world, and we have an international star right here on our hands,” Walwyn further said while he also mentioned other athletes such as Nelda Huggins and Chantel Malone.
Let’s not outdo ourselves
The deputy premier, Dr Pickering, in the meantime, urged caution.
“I just want to sound a quick work of caution that, as we congratulate our athletes and we big them up in the colloquial word, we also continue to remind ourselves and therefore remind our athletes that the BVI has come a long way in a relatively short space of time; and that we don’t put unnecessary expectations on ourselves; and that we continue to grow from strength to strength at one step at a time and not to try to outdo ourselves because other people are doing it.”
Dr Pickering further said: “In my lifetime, I have seen every major sporting facilities in this country built – save for the Old Recreational Grounds… We continue to build. We just need to continue to remind ourselves of the blessings that we have – that we continue to grow from strength to strength and not over-reach, but to take our time to get there.”
Investing is nothing new
Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie added his voice to the discussion, noting that he would support any initiative to garner funding for the athletes.
But Fahie noted that the idea is not new, adding that the BVI government had contributed towards past athletes such as Tahesia Harrigan-Scott.
“It is always good when our athletes do these things because it helps lift up the Virgin Islands… The government said they gonna bring something to help the athletes… I will support it if it comes. I don’t see what the problem could be,” Fahie told the House.
He added, “I know that there are other initiatives that are out there already for our athletes, and the government really spend some monies behind some of them to try to see if we could get them to the level to get on the map. So a new programme or adjustment to the programme is fine. I remember Ms Tahesia Harrigan; we invested in her and many other athletes I could name. When the athletes make it, you can’t pay for that kind of publicity.”
Other members of the House also supported the proposed special funding for the territory’s athletes.
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