By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Chantel Malone missed the 18th World Athletics Championships which concluded in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday, with the Long Jump, her pet event on the program’s final day. Shot Putter Eldred Henry missed the event altogether. Kyron McMaster was pulled from the 400m Hurdles semis after an injury affected him. All three were at the 2019 Championships in Doha, Qatar, where McMaster placed 4th and Malone was also a finalist.
There were high hopes for them in the Tokyo Olympic Games and again at the World Championships, but injuries affected them. Having physical therapy and psychological services at major championships can keep our athletes on par with their rivals and help reduce or recover from injuries and the stress they put their bodies through. BVI athletes went to battle against the world’s best without needed services, while expecting podium finishes.
This situation has been the norm since the BVI began participating in regional competitions in the 70s, starting with the Carifta Games in the Bahamas and the woes continue to today, as the importance of support services to athletes take a back burner, despite the country’s resources.
Coach Willis “Chucky” Todman, who’s also treasurer of the BVI Athletics Association, told Island Sun Sports that they too didn’t have a dedicated physio in the camp in Track Town USA, during the just concluded championships. Todman noted that in a discussion with McMaster’s management team, they said things were expected of McMaster—but enough wasn’t being done for the athlete—who went into the championships ranked No 4 in the world in the 400m Hurdles, the highest ranking a BVI athlete has ever attained heading into the premier global event.
“Kyron came into the championship hurt, we didn’t bring anybody and yes there was someone working with him, but that someone is working with another team,” Todman noted, bemoaning the situation. “For example, two nights before he ran when the physio was to do most of the work on Kyron, he called Kyron like one o’clock in the morning and Kyron said that was too late. So when the physio was done with everyone else, that’s when he got to Kyron. If you’re paying someone an amount of money and he’s working with another athlete, obviously that country will get offended because I’m paying you to work with my athletes—even the pros do the same thing—so we definitely need to change that as well.”
Malone, who would have jumped on Saturday and in Sunday final and missed the event, told Island Sun Sports: “We don’t have the support we need to be able to get the treatment that the top athletes are getting. When you see the top athletes walking on the track, they have their physio—everything with them—to ensure they’re realigned, they’re ready and they’re firing, so that when they hit the track, all they have to do is worry about training and competing. But if you’re dealing with an injury, then at least for big meets, I think it’s so important just to have someone to make sure that you’re good, when it’s time to go.”
Todman said they need to have the services on the ground and someone when they’re traveling, especially at worlds or major regional championships.
“You look at every single elite athlete, they had their trainer walking with them—some even had them in their hip pocket—the coach on one side, physical trainer on the other,” he noted. “We have a ways to go to clean up or act if we want to continue being on the world stage.”
Akrisa Eristee and Wanyae Bell, the two athletes in the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, coached by 2013 World Championships qualifier Karene King, will be without physiotherapy services as well, during the August 1-6 competition.