By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Since his Olympic debut in the Rio 2016 Games, Eldred Henry had been looking forward to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has been delayed by the global pandemic, COVID-19. Now, the national Shot Put record holder who heaved the 16 pounds ball out to 21.47m (70’5¼”) to qualify for Tokyo, had to make the painful decision to withdraw from the Games, because of an elbow injury on his throwing hand.
“It’s a hard choice to make because I was looking forward to these Games for the last five years, basically,” Henry, the first BVI athlete to qualify for Tokyo told Island Sun Sports on Tuesday night. “After Rio, I wanted to get to the Olympics in a better way than I got there the last time, which was to qualify, earn my passage, then go there, compete and represent. But COVID and everything didn’t let that happen. I’m very disappointed because it’s like time was wasted. I spent the last five years prepping for the meet and I have to sit down and watch it at home like everybody else.”
Henry, ranked No 86 All Time in the world in the history of the Shot with his 21.47 (70’5¼”) personal best from 2019, said his hand isn’t improving as fast as he’d like it to, but it’s making improvements, just that he won’t be able to have a quick turnaround for the Games. He was able to compete twice this season but was severely hampered by the injury and cut short his campaign to seek treatment. As weight room training is very important, he said it equates to about 80% of the throw.
‘If you don’t have that background strength, combined with the technique, the Shot Put isn’t going to go anywhere—you can’t have one without the other,” Henry explained. “You need them. They complement each other. Throwing a 16 pounds ball, you want to be as strong as possible, so you could maintain those reps, over and over.”
In a BVI Olympic Committee statement, Henry who would have competed in Tokyo in his pet event on Aug 3, said that the treatment and full recovery process requires more time than is left for the Tokyo Olympic Games and after consultation with his Coach Tony Dougherty, doctors working on his treatment, he conferred with the BVI Athletics Association and BVI Olympic Committee and it was agreed that he would not compete in Japan and risk putting his athletic career in jeopardy.
“Instead, I will concentrate on making a full and proper recovery to regain my optimal performance level for the future Games coming up in 2022 and leading up to Paris 2024,” Henry said in the statement. “I am grateful for all the support I receive from both the BVIAA and the BVIOC and feel frustrated and disappointed not to be able to represent my country at the Olympics this year. I will be in daily contact with the athletes attending Tokyo 2020 and look forward to supporting the team all the way.”
Since qualifying for Tokyo in 2019, Henry told Island Sun Sports that his event has changed and gone to another level, led by the USA’s Ryan Crouser, who established a 23.37m (76’8”) World Record during their Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 18.
“We’ve reached an era now for those distances to be achieved the right way—clean without any additives or anything like that,” he pointed out. “The level of the sport from 2 years ago, from my point of view, is about 2 meters ahead now.”