By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Exactly 40 years after the BVI debuted in the Central American and Caribbean Games, Archery earned its first qualifying spot in the regional event slated for El Salvador in 2023, during the Copa Merengue qualifier in Santo Domingo, on Sept 8.
VI Archery Association Secretary Ritseeniyah Georges told Island Sun Sports that she lost her first match, but Winnette Lawrence tied for fifth place, resulting in the BVI gaining a qualifying spot in the CAC Games.
Lawrence had a one arrow shoot off with an archer from Martinique, who won by hitting a bullseye.
“We have earned a qualifying spot for the games so it was a good day, very profitable,” Georges said. “It marks the first time that archery will be able to represent the BVI in the games. When someone or team wins a position, they win the position for the country. We will have a national competition and at that national competition, will determine which archer will actually go to the games. It’s always good to have more people going to a qualifier because it gives us more opportunities to win a spot. While I did not win the spot for the country, Winnette did.”
Lawrence noted that the VI Archery Association has been active since 2015, but has been affected by Hurricane Irma and Covid, reducing the time they have been in competitive action to four years.
“We finally hit the big league, which is a very good thing for us. I hope with this, we would get the young people to come along and do archery with us,” Lawrence told Island Sun Sports. “So I’m happy, we’re happy and the whole BVI should be happy.”
Lawrence said on the first day, she didn’t perform as expected because she didn’t have breakfast but for the CAC Games qualifier, everyone ensured that she was well hydrated and her Dominican Republic friend who’s No 5 in the Caribbean was cheering her on—something they lacked because the Jr. teams was unable to travel because the effects of Tropical Storm Earl, cancelled flights. She said having someone and a coach is something they should look into for the future.
“It’s very hard not to have anyone behind you cheering you on, because if there’s no one to tell you what’s up, it’s not something good,” she noted.
Georges said while she and Lawrence are also national coaches and can guide themselves, it’s always best to have a coach. “But the Dominican Republic is like a second home and we have made some incredible friends—people that we can now call family here—who were not shooting at the time and we are able to be that support that we did not have, which is something l love about this sport,” she explained. “They are competing against us, but we’re all competing together. We’d love to definitely walk with a coach next time, unfortunately we didn’t have one because we didn’t have the funds to support that, but we’re definitely going to be doing some fundraisers to support that.”
Phil Greaves from World Archery who has worked closely with the development of VI archery, was delighted with the result.
“This is huge, really huge,” he told Island Sun Sports in an exclusive interview from Santo Domingo, noting that the field was really packed. “I think we had over 160 archers vying for spots. We were conducting training for new coaches and when I walked onto the field, I was approached by Winnette and was informed that they had qualified and that made me really, really happy. I was really, really pleased to hear that, because it’s very difficult to qualify and the competition was very heavy and very keen.”
Greaves noted that conditions were tough with high temperatures but everyone persevered and were able to shoot.
“We were really pleased that BVI qualified and we’re looking forward to them competing,” Greaves said.
Archery joins Basketball, Cycling, Tennis, Sailing, Softball, Squash, Track and Field and Triathlon, as the territory’s ninth sport to qualify for the CAC Games. (Swimming has also qualified but was unable to participate.) The BVI has won seven medals including a gold medal in every CAC Games since 2002 and has five overall. During the last games in Barranquilla, Colombia, BVI athletes won three medals for the first time, including its first silver and bronze medals.