'Put your best foot forward'
Yassin tells South American Games team By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
July 19, 2002

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Members of Guyana's South American Games team had an opportunity to meet each other on Wednesday night when Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) president, Juman Yassin, hosted a reception at his residence.

Addressing the gathering which also included other members of the GOA as well as the few members of the Commonwealth Games team that are still in Guyana, Yassin said the occasion was organised because it is important for the athletes who do not know each other, to be able to meet each other, so when they travel abroad they would not be meeting each other for the first time.

Guyana will be represented at the VII South American Games, billed for Brazil from August 1 to 11, by a 23-member delegation, made up of two swimmers, four track and field athletes, six boxers and five table tennis players. Four officials will also accompany the team.

The Games will be held in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belem and Curitiba.

The delegation will leave on July 29 and return on August 15.

"We hope and expect you will put your best foot forward and be good ambassadors for Guyana," Yassin urged, and jokingly added "and we would want the boxers to put their best hands forward."

Yassin said apart from participation in the competition, he hopes that camaraderie and fellowship would be built so that the different people from this region of the world will meet each other and know each other "so that this world would be a happier place. But I think we have to start with ourselves in Guyana," Yassin remarked.

The former chief magistrate in acknowledging the presence of double Junior Central American and Caribbean bronze medalist Cleveland Forde, pleaded with him: "do not let the little success you have so far enjoyed, fly to your head, you have a far way to go and the little message you sent to the president (Bharrat Jagdeo) the other day, I endorse it sir." Forde has sought to lobby for assistance to local track and field athletes, pointing out that they are at a disadvantage when competing overseas since Guyana lacks synthetic tracks to train on.

Also addressing the gathering was Chef-de-Mission Noel Adonis, senior vice-president of the Guyana Rugby Football Union who recently returned from a meeting in Brazil.

According to Adonis, the South American Games have been cancelled on a number of occasions, and this year it was originally planned for Colombia.

Adonis said the Brazilian authorities have organised the games in four cities which he thinks is very democratic since it will ensure the full participation of Brazilians.

Boxing, swimming and track and field will be staged in Belem, while table tennis will be played in Sao Paulo.

"There will be a number of other countries there, and they are going to be doing their best to ensure they win in whatever competition they are going to be participating in, and we would also want to do the same, and I want to encourage you to do the same," Adonis stressed, adding "when I say do your best, I mean do your best at that level. Doing your best in Guyana means that you are doing your best at one level, but doing your best at that level, means you have to raise the level of your competition, and we are going to be looking forward to that."

The team is made up of: (Swimming) Onan Thom and Ronald Ying, with former national swimmer Mary Chung as manager; (Track and Field) Michelle Vaughn, Tai Payne, Cleveland Forde and Keith Roberts, with Linden Wilson as manager/coach; (Table Tennis) Jonathan Sankar, Christopher Franklyn, Jody-Ann Blake, Matthew Khan and Vidya Moore, with Sydney Christophe as manager/coach; and (Boxing) Wilmot Hutson, Paul Lewis, Lennox Allen, Ewan Azore, Ryan O'Neil and Michael Rogers, with Carl Franklyn as manager/coach.

The team's general manager is Joseph Lee-Lam.

Vaughn will contest the long and triple jumps while Roberts will participate in the 100 and 200-metre sprints. Payne will run the 400 and 800-metre events and Forde the 5,000 and 10,000-metre races.

Christophe and Bertnel Richards attended the 1998 South American Games in Ecuador. Unfortunately, they both failed to medal.

Meanwhile, Garfield Witshire, Regan Pollard, Lennox Daniels, Theophilus Blue and Rudolph Fraser will wing out for Manchester, England tomorrow. They will join Ransford Goodluck, Mahendra Persaud, Nicolette Fernandes, Luke Fraser, Marian Burnette, Alian Pompey, Shondell King and Julian McWatt, who are already in England for the Commonwealth Games which begins next Thursday.