By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Virgin Gorda’s Ciboney Center of Excellence, bagged the top prizes as schools competed for $12,000 in scholarships, during Friday’s VI Archery in Schools Program Nationals, held on the HLSCC campus.
While only Ciboney and Cedar Schools participated in the event, no public school showed interest this year.
Ciboney’s Valentin Zahrebelnyj, who has been in the sport for three years, repeated as Boy’s champion to claim the $2,160 prize and teammate Eva Fox was the top girl and also claimed $2,160 towards scholarships.
“I thought my teammate Benjamin Moore would get it,” Zahrebelnuj told Island Sun Sports of his surprise to repeat as champion. “I think he deserved it and worked hard for it. It was pretty difficult to defend. There were some pretty good people on the field, hanging some numbers out there but, I guess, superiority is.”
Moore, who was just second in the divisional segment in the last event, was surprised to finish second. “This is a lot of money, for my age at least,” said Moore, 16, who earned $1,620 and is eyeing the culinary field.
Sheylon Brown was third and won $730. “For me, this is a shock because I didn’t do too well as I was fifth last time and I wasn’t too happy about it,” he said. “But I’m happy I had a chance to win scholarship money and to go on in the future and have a good job. My teachers and my mom really pushed me and helped me get through the tough times and they helped train me to become as good as I am right now.”
Fox expressed surprise in winning the Girls division. “These other girls are really good, they’re awesome,” said Fox, who took up Archery two years ago. “Today was fun and I got to meet new people.”
Fox credited her mom, coach and teammates’ support and getting the victory. “I really didn’t expect to win $2,160 at all,” she said.
Eva Carey of Cedar School, too was surprised with her second placed finish and the $1,620 award. “I thought that everyone here was amazing and I thought I wouldn’t do this well,” she said, nothing his coach and friends support helped. “I think my mentality was like I kept thinking I can do this and I think that really helped.”
Ava Ghiorse, who won $730 for third place, agreed that there were good girls competing and she was surprised with her result. “All of them had good abilities with the bow and I wasn’t expecting it,” said Ghiorse of Cedar School who took up the sport a year ago. “This is an extremely big surprise. The school had programs in Archery and I really wanted to try it, I just gave it a go and third place. I didn’t expect to win $730. That’s a lot less than my dad won in his cycling career, he told me.”
Ciboney School Principal Laura Fox, told Island Sun Sports that they’re thrilled and the children do love the archery program. “We brought back some students who competed before and brought in some new students and are trying to develop that program. It’s a different type of sport, so certain students are attracted to it and I’m very proud of our athletes today,” Fox said. “I think they did a phenomenal job and all the students had a great time. Sports are so important. It’s something we as a territory must place our effort on. We have some tremendous athletic potential here and the willingness to develop sports, speaks to our investment in the youths in our territory.”
VI Archery Association Secretary and event coordinator Ritseeniyah Georges, told Island Sun Sports that everything together as it was a lot to put together since she was coming off maternity leave.
“I’ve very happy that it came through, everyone had fun and they told me they had fun and that’s all the matters,” Georges said. “We gave away $12,000 in scholarships today.”
Regarding her school’s sports program, Fox they’re ready it’s time as her school is developing. They have installed a field just before Covid and coming out of Covid, they’re making active use of the field. A basketball court has also been added last summer and now they’re adding volleyball and the softball program is starting.
“It’s important to be active,” she said. “I grew up as a very active child, always involved in sports and we feel as a school, sports is very important to the development of our students and to the development of the territory. Sports is becoming a focus. We have a strong music program and other things so we’re trying to develop all areas of our students and we encourage them to get a broad wholesome base, so as they grow and matriculate, the skillset will be very diversified.”
Fox said they recently played Bregado Flax in Volleyball and Softball will be between public and private schools on the island and they also participate in Inter Primary Track and Field.
“We like competition,” she said. “Competition is good. The children need it.”