Sporting excellence transcends boundaries Sports Comment
Stabroek News
August 5, 2002

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It is amazing that whenever a Guyanese athlete excels in the field of sports how many people crawl out of the woodwork with words of praise and pledges of support.

This was the case with Andrew ‘Sixhead’ Lewis, Guyana’s former World Boxing Association welterweight champion, who, since he has lost the title, seems to have lost some of his new found friends also.

A curious thing seems to be happening with Aliann Pompey who just a few months ago was insignificant but now, because of her tremendous run in the 400m finals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games where she won a gold medal, seems to have picked up a few admirers/ friends along the way, some of whom (perhaps hypocritically) seem to be now championing her cause.

Perhaps that’s just the way life is for as the saying goes “everybody loves a winner” and Aliann is just that - a winner.

But while Aliann is a winner, sports in Guyana continues to be a loser in the way it is structured and administered.

Aliann’s victory, like Sixhead’s, is a tremendous achievement and allows for all self-styled patriots to thump their chests and proclaim their pride in being Guyanese as well as declare their love for this `Land of Many Waters.’

But take a long hard look at the facilities here for local sportsmen and women.

Pompey has declared her intention of coming for the Barry Massy Games but how will she fare on Guyana’s `hallowed’ grass tracks when she is accustomed to competing on synthetic tracks in the more developed countries like the one where she resides. Perhaps her patriotism and love for her country might allow her to do just that, but Guyana remains one of the few countries still without a modern athletic track for local athletes.

And what about sponsorship? How many local athletes are prevented from attending sports meets abroad because of lack of funds? Where, oh where, are the patrotic Guyanese when sponsorship is needed?

There are those who are so narrow minded in their outlook that they feel that a call for more recognition of Pompey’s achievements is more important than a call for proper facilities or more sponsorship for our local athletes. They also feel that recognition given to foreign athletes means that one is slighting local athletes’ performances. That argument however amounts to nothing less than simple brainlessness.

Sporting excellence transcends bigoted views that seek only to trumpet performances based on nationality, race, religion and other such criteria.

To overcome adversity in the pursuit of sporting excellence is one of the success stories of sports. The achievements of Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens and Michael Jordan will forever be celebrated by peoples of all races all over the world in all manner of ways. Finally, the right to express an opinion does not necessarily mean that opinion is right.