Guyanese Olympians! Rallying A Nation Through Their Perseverance

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It is always a huge achievement for any athlete to be selected as a representative of their country at the highest possible level in sport, the Olympics.
At the 2016 Olympics taking place in Rio, Guyana was represented by six athletes in the form of swimmers Hannibal Gaskin and Jamila Sanmogan and athletes, Troy Doris, Winston George, Brenessa Thompson and Aliyah Abrams.
Arriving in Rio, it was the intention of the Guyanese athletes to break a 36-year medal drought at the Olympics; Guyana’s last and only medalist to date being boxer Michael Paris who achieved a bronze medal at the 1980 summer games held in Moscow, Soviet Union.
While the Guyanese athletes did not achieve a medal, they represented with pride and dignity. Coming closest to giving his nation a medal was triple jumper Troy Doris, who reached the finals and ended as the 7th best in the world with a best jump of 16.90m.
The event was won by USA’s Christian Taylor with a leap of 17.86m, his countryman Will Claye took the silver (17.76m) while China’s Dong Bin copped the bronze medal with his 17.13m effort.
Doris in the process created history by becoming the first Guyanese to qualify for a final at the Summer Olympics, quite an achievement and has set the bar high for others to aim for in Tokyo in four year’s time.
In advancing to the finals, Doris had finished 6th place in qualifying with a leap of 16.81 m.
Sprinter Brenessa Thompson competing in the women’s 100 m heats round 1 and ranked at 53, posted time of 11.72s which was not good enough to take her forward as she ended in 7th place. In the women’s 200 m, round 1 with a rank of 59, Thompson clocked 23.65 which effectively brought her Rio sojourn to a close.
Winston George competing in the 400m one lap contest and ranked at 26 was timed at 45.77s which, he too made a first round exit despite placing fifth.
With a rank of 38 in the women’s 400m, Aliyah Abrams ended her quest for glory in the first round with a time of 52.79s which earned her 5th place.
Zooming in our swimmers, the duo of Hannibal Gaskin and Jamila Sanmogan were in Rio through “Universality Places” and therefore were only allowed one event each.
Contesting the 50m Freestyle, Sanmogan achieved a time of 28.88s contesting heat 5 for 6th place, while Gaskin competing in the 100 m Butterfly (heat 1) which attracted 3 swimmers, achieved a time of 58.57 s.
Both Sanmogan and Gaskin participated in the South American Swimming Championships in Paraguay, March 30 – April 3 which was the last qualifier that they went to prior to Rio.
While no medals, all Guyana must be proud of the athlete’s achievements. The rallying call must be for government and the private sector to start a serious and real programme of investment in local athletes. Then and only then, would the nation be able to take it up a notch in search of that elusive second medal.

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Columns · Issue 24 · Publication · Sports

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