Sports review 1999
Compiled by Orin Davidson and Michael Da Silva
December 25, 1999
Cricket buckled from telling body blows
Guyana enters the new century still searching for the level of sports success which promised so much before and after this country gained independence in 1966.
Lack of adequate funding for training, competition and modern facilities have robbed Guyana of fulfilling its deep potential as a sports power in the English speaking Caribbean.
Apart from the national under-15 cricket team, Guyana failed to win any other title at regional competition in 1999 despite us hosting five competitions.
Our success in 1999 failed to match that of 1998, representing a decline rather than an improvement in the final year before the new millennium.
Following is a review of Guyana's fortunes in sport in 1999.
The positives were outweighed by the negatives in a year which saw Guyana losing its status as one of the stronger West Indian territories in regional competition.
Guyana were dethroned as champions in both senior regional competitions. In the four-day President's Cup the joint defending champs could only muster a semi-final finish and likewise was the case in the Red Stripe Bowl limited overs series.
Trinidad proved Guyana's nemesis in the newly formatted four-day competition as they ousted the locals in the last four playoffs on first innings points after Trinidad won an outright victory in the preliminary round. With the experience of Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Keith Semple and Reon King who all were touring South Africa with the West Indies and Nicholas de Groot, who succumbed to injury in the first game, the less endowed replacements could not match opposition although Clayton Lambert returned from the second game, from South Africa.
Guyana ended with two outright victories from six matches and earned some consolation from Lambert who surpassed Desmond Haynes' regional scoring record of 4,431 runs.
The subsequent retirement of Hooper and Lambert from international competition was a blow to the cricketing fraternity but the unexpected death of long serving administrator and ex-player Leslie Amsterdam was a huge loss. Amsterdam died by drowning in the Berbice river after he fell from a passenger vessel and was accorded a stirring funeral service in the Ancient county.
National under-19 player, Rawl John, also succumbed by drowning in Georgetown after making his Nortel debut a few months earlier.
The Nortel competition in Barbados saw Guyana failing to continue their dominance of the three-day competition at that level. They failed to win the three-day title for the first time in seven years, going out in the semi-finals to Trinidad and also lost in the last four in the inaugural limited overs tournament. But the tour of Barbados was not totally disastrous as 15-year-old Narsingh Deonarine broke into the limelight with three commanding centuries in the two competitions to set up himself as a future West Indies prospect.
When it was Guyana's turn to host the Australians for a solitary one-dayer against West Indies in the Cable and Wireless series, this country earned the distinction as one of the most disorderly for big matches when an overcrowded Bourda ground experienced an invasion of the field by spectators during the final minutes of the game, which was eventually deemed incomplete and ruled a tie, as a result. It cost West Indies a victory and prompted calls for this country to be banned from staging international matches.
At the under-15 level, Guyana led by promising Berbice batsman Roopnarine Ramgobin won the title for the second year running in the competition staged at home.
At the domestic level, Demerara proved their superiority in senior competition by retaining the Banks Malta four-day and limited overs titles, but Berbice continued their dominance in junior competition by carting off the GTM Under-19 and Castrol championship trophies.
Club competition saw GCC emerge as the top team in one-day cricket after winning the Banks Premium national title and reaching the yet to be staged final of the Sun Burst competition.
A welcome return of organised school competition was initiated and executed by the Guyana Cricket Board, the National Sports Commission and the Ministry of Education. Covent Garden of East Bank Demerara took top honours in the limited overs competition which will be repeated in 2000.
A downward spiral of performances at the international level was assuaged somewhat by procured help from the International Football Association for the construction of the long awaited football stadium.
Incumbent Guyana Football Association president Colin Klass who retained the post by the narrowest of margins from challenger Joe Harmon in a bitterly fought campaign, secured Guyana on a list of FIFA's five beneficiaries for money to build stadia in the respective countries. One of the grounds owned by the University of Guyana at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, was identified for the project, but up to press time, its handing over to the ruling body to start construction work was not confirmed.
The development was easily the best to happen to Guyana in a year which saw the national teams continue to struggle fruitlessly for significant success on the field.
Guyana failed to get past Barbados in the first preliminary round of the Copa Caribe competition, formerly Shell Caribbean Cup, going out on a 4-2 aggregate in the home and away tie. After drawing the home match 2-2, the locals were beaten 2-0 in Barbados after two key players withdrew from the touring party at the last minute. The squad included Collie Hercules, Randolph Jerome and Charles Pollard who clinched full time contracts in the first ever Trinidad professional league playing for Docs Khelwalaas.
The Under-23 team went one step further in their quest for a place in the Sydney Olympics by disposing of arch rivals Suriname 4-1 and 4-3 in the two home and away matches. They however, were stopped by unfancied Netherlands Antilles via two draws, 1-1 at home and 0-0 in Curacao, going out on the away goals rule.
A well put together Inter Guiana under-20 team was the exception to the rule as they topped Suriname and hosts French Guiana to come out victorious in the three-team Inter Guiana tournament in Cayenne. Guyana beat Suriname 3-0 and although they lost 2-1 to It was Guyana's fourth title triumph in the Games since its resuscitation in 1993.
However, the under-15 team failed to get past the first round of the inaugural Caribbean Football Union tournament by allowing Barbados to rebound after scraping a draw with an 89th minute goal in the away game. The Bajans came to Guyana and won the return fixture, 2-1
An under-20 team representing the Guyana Teachers Union also competed internationally in the BWIA school tournament where they drew both matches they played.
Guyana once again faltered at home after scoring first Barbados fought back to score two goals win to the match and the tie.
At the domestic level, Upper Demerara, boosted by Hercules and Jerome retained the Inter Sub Association title by edging Georgetown 3-2 in an exciting Carib Brewery final, which returned to the GCC ground Bourda.
The fallout from the elections of the national body which changed its title from the Guyana Football Association to the Guyana Football Federation, resulted in referee Gerald Laurie and Upper Demerara vice president Avery Trim being banned for life by the ruling body on instructions from the regional body CONCACAF, for filing a court injunction on the GFF, seeking to prevent it from functioning, in contravention of the constitution. Hinckson was also banned for supporting the actions of Laurie and Trim.
Earlier in the year East Coast club Victoria Kings rose from obscurity to place a creditable second to Docs Khelwalaas, the professional outfit from Trinidad, which edged them 2-1 in the final of the Kashif and Shanghai club tournament. Kings also won the Mayor's Cup title while Santos were eventually determined 1998 Georgetown champions. They won the NBIC competition and the GFC Invitational crown, as well.
The 1998 Carib Brewery final which overlapped into the year was won by Linden which defeated Berbice 1-0 in the final after Georgetown were eliminated by default after failing to show up in Bartica for a preliminary match.
Administratively, the Georgetown Football League elected a new president, when Maurice John defeated Oliver Hinckson for the top post. Conquerors stepped into the limelight by winning their first ever Georgetown league title, dethroning Santos in the process.
Nineteen ninety-nine seems likely to mark the beginning of a period where the focus of Guyana's professional boxing fortunes will be concentrated outside of these shores. The difficulties of staging fight cards locally, caused mainly by the relocation of this country's best pugilists to North America and elsewhere, has virtually slowed pro boxing promotions to a crawl.
Better fight opportunities forced the cream of Guyana's boxers to greener pastures where the grass was found to provide a much smoother path to the top than the rocky road back home.
As a result of the better climate, Guyanese pugilists have progressed swiftly and placed the country on the verge of attaining its first world title.
The popular welterweight division finds Rawl Frank ranked number one by the World Boxing Association for Felix Trinidad's title, while Andrew "Sixhead" Lewis has blazed his way on a trail of destruction to number three on the IBF list. The two fighters fought unbeaten during the year as was the Lou Duva managed Vivian Harris who is steadily moving up the lightweight ranks. He gave Guyanese fans an inkling of what to expect by defeating compatriot Gary St. Clair on an ESPN televised main bout two weeks ago.
Wayne `Big Truck' Braithwaite also fought unbeaten and highlighted his year by knocking out Australian Adam Watt to claim the World Boxing Board (WBB) cruiserweight bel,t Down Under. He is due to oppose compatriot Melroy Corbin, who is making a name for himself in Trinidad after winning the Caribbean title, for the Latin American (FEDE) cruiserweight crown tomorrow in Trinidad.
Andre Purlette, the big hitting light heavyweight is also unbeaten in Florida while former Commonwealth champion Andrew Murray is making an impressive comeback.
On the local scene, the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) now headed by K.D. Persaud, took an active role in domestic cards which saw a move made to push women's boxing. Every card staged featured at least one bout among the fairer sex but the man taking the spotlight on the local scene was Richard Howard who won the lightweight title and successfully defended it twice.
There being no senior Caricom championships this year, the highest level of competition Guyana aspires to these days, the focus shifted to the junior ranks.
Despite Guyana hosting the junior Caricom tournament, the local boys and girls teams failed to make use of the home advantage, finishing ninth and fourth respectively.
The boys won one match in the competition won by the Bahamas while the girls claimed two victories as Suriname dominated to win their first title.
At the Inter Guiana Games in French Guiana, the Guyana boys and girls did not win any of their two matches each, but were not disgraced by Suriname and the hosts.
Initial steps were made to prepare the national senior and junior teams for engagements which resulted in the staging of two tournaments by the federation.
And a talented team of under-23 players were discovered in Linden after they defeated a Georgetown side 2-1 in a best of three series. It was after they narrowly lost to Georgetown in the first tournament. The Georgetown and Linden women played to a 1-1 tie in the former competition.
In Georgetown, the most established of the three sub-associations, undisclosed problems resulted in the non-completion of the association's first division competition. The Dennis Breedy third division is also currently in progress.
Athletics enjoyed unprecendented success
By normal standard, Guyana's athletics enjoyed unprecedented success in 1999 in international competition although athletes and administrators continued to grapple with financial problems which continued to deny competitors much needed high level exposure.
Apart from junior teams from which fans have grown accustomed to achieving success on the international tracks, outstanding performances were recorded by the senior national team at the Central American and Caribbean championships in Barbados where Guyana landed one gold, two silver and a bronze medal.
United States-based middle distance specialist Ian Roberts clinched Guyana's first gold medal at the championships by winning the men's 800 metres, in a personal best 1 minute 46.92 seconds, defeating two Jamaicans in the process. Paul Tucker another US-based athlete copped silver in the men's 110 metres hurdles while Burgette Williams, another member of a four-member overseas-based team, was the second of two finishers in the women's half marathon.
Marian Burnette was the most successful Guyana-based athlete in 1999.
Burnette's exploits later won her a scholarship to Essex Community College in the United States. It capped an outstanding year for the Police athlete who had earlier in the year won gold in the 800m event at the Trinidad National Championships and silver at the Hampton Games where young Analisa Austin and Kwame Caesar carted off golds in an eight-medal overall haul for Guyanese athletes.
Burnette also landed two gold medals at the Whitsuntide Games where Trishel Thompson added another.
The Junior Carifta Games team was even more successful in Martinique where Vishwanauth Sukmangal won gold to retain his 5000m boys title while US-based Patrick Harding took gold in the shot putt and discus events.
At around the same time in April, the Guyana team emphatically retained the Inter Guiana Games title in French Guiana at the expense of the host team and Suriname.
There was also success for the Guyana CAC Youth Championships team which won four medals in Grenada and teenager Abedemi Charles who ended the year with a bang by taking the OECS women's half marathon crown.
The sport had one of its least distinguished years in some time in which Guyana failed to attend the Caribbean Amateur Championships in Aruba due to lack of money.
When the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association did manage to finance a team overseas, the two-man squad drew blank at the Box Off in Ecuador for the Pan American Games in Canada, as both failed to qualify.
In domestic tournaments the Guyana Defence Force Gym continued its dominance of club competitions, beginning with their 14th title victory in the novices competition. They followed up by capturing six titles to take top honours in the intermediate tournament and completed the hat-trick by winning the national open with 14 points. Forgotten Youth Foundation placed second.
Amateur boxing experienced one of its less distinguished years.
One of the country's leading referees Randolph Isaacs created a first for Guyana by officiating at the world championships in Texas, United States.
Plans to build a permanent training facility for boxing were discussed by the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association and promised financial help was by Minister of Sport Gail Teixeira.
As been the case for the longest while, cycling activities were confined to road race competitions in 1999 and Kaieteur club wheeler Dwayne Gibbs established himself as Guyana's leading man on the road. His club mate Godfrey Pollydore, easily the best sprinter in the country, made some progress in regional track competition which saw him winning the best sprinter title at the Arima Park meet in Trinidad. But he still lacked the necessary high level exposure for training and competition which made it difficult to impact in competitions like the Pan American Games, which happened to be biggest test he faced during the year. The Kaieteur rider underwent a training stint before the Games in the United States, made possible through an International Olympic Committee (IOC) scholarship acquired by the Guyana Olympic Association, but it was not substantial enough.
Gibbs won most of the road races at home including the National Sports Commission's three-stage event but lacked the financial resources to compete more often overseas to do justice to his talent. Young Tyrone Hamilton came into his own during the year both on the road and track where he won promotion from category four to three at Arima Park and at the Barbados International meet.
Administratively, Ulric Pollydore assumed the role as president for the Guyana Cycling Federation after several years at the helm by Reagan Rodrigues.
Guyana enjoyed as usual, greater success at the junior level compared to the seniors whose men's team did well to qualify for the Pan American Games from the regional playoffs in Guatemala.
The team of Max Weithers, Garfield Wiltshire, Luke Fraser and Reagan Pollard did well but not good enough to win medals at the Games in Canada.
At the Caribbean Championships (CARASRA) hosted by Guyana, the men's team continued their good form by carting off the team title, but Barbados were emerged as overall championships having won the women's crown and placing second in the men's competition. Canada-based Fraser confirmed Guyana's dominance by defeating compatriot and national open champion Wiltshire to take the men's individual title.
The juniors carted off four individual crowns at the Junior Caribbean Championships in Trinidad, in addition to the girls' team title.
Later in the year, Nicolette Fernandes, who became the youngest Guyanese to win the national individual women's singles title at 16 years of age, journeyed to North America where she placed third in the under-17 category at the United States Open. Her compatriot Chantelle Fernandes won the under-14 and under-16 titles at the Trinidad junior open, at the same time.
For the second year, the Guyana Squash Association staged the Cirkel International tournament which involved players from Barbados and Trinidad along with the hosts. Wiltshire and Andrea Goodridge, the Barbados champion carted off the men's and women's titles respectively.
Competition was restricted to one international meet and another local competition at the South Dakota circuit where a keen rivalry developed between Andrew King and Mark Vieira for top honours in the high level Group Three category.
After Vieira took top honours at the May meet with two victories in the top level group three category, King bounced back to reclaim his place on the throne by sweeping all three events at the October International meet which featured competitors from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica.
Group Three however was robbed of the eagerly awaited competition between the country's top two drivers after Vieira withdrew his Mazda RX7 rotary car after a collision with King in the latter stages of the first Group Three race, when the two competitors led the field.
Gavin Narine proved his class in group three by initially winning two races, but subsequently disqualified for not completing the club house bend turn, after crossing the finishing line first in his second event.
Weeks later a strong Guyana team journeyed to Trinidad and Tobago to contest the Wallerfield international meet where they encountered a string of disappointing experiences caused by engine failure and accidents. Of the lot King managed to record the best return of a second place in the Group Three. Early in the year the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club voted in a new president in Anil Beharry. In grass track motor cycling racing, evergreen Niki Ramsarram continued to rule the roost. He emerged as champion rider in more than half of the meets staged.
Even though Guyana did not win the Southern Caribbean Rugby Championships, successfully staged by the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU), the sport received a big boost during the year by the interest generated locally with the staging of the championships which attracted five countries.
Trinidad, the most established team of the field, lived up to expectations and duly won the title by playing unbeaten in their four matches. Guyana managed to scrape third place in the planned inaugural level two Caribbean championships. Barbados, Martinique and Guadeloupe were the other participating teams. In yet another regional championship series, the McGregor Cup, symbol of supremacy between Guyana and Trinidad was not staged, as was the case in previous years when the two countries contested the regional championships. In local competition GDF, regained supremacy in the Banks Sevens tournament which they won by defeating defending champions Pride Kaimans in the final.
Rifleshooting: The Guyana Rifleshooting Association hosted the WITCO Caribbean Championships, however, the performances of the competitors could not match those of the organisers as the hosts failed to win the team title for the first time at home.
In the individual competition Trinidad's Norris Gomez emerged victorious, beating Guyana's Richard Fields and Lennox Braithwaite into second and third places respectively.
A © page from: Guyana: Land of Six Peoples