XXII Central American and Caribbean Games
For over 45 years, the Virgin Islands has celebrated the Olympic tradition by sending our athletes to compete. This fall that tradition continues at the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games.
The dreams and the training of our Virgin Islands Olympians could not have been possible without the financial support of the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee and you. The Committee provided funding for travel, competition and training grants for 23 different sports.
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VERACRUZ, Mexico – To be successful in competitive sailing one must be in good physical condition, but one’s fiscal conditions play a major role as well.
Members of the Virgin Islands sailing team participating in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, are seeing financial effects during the games.
“Equipment is very lacking. Especially for what we paid for,” Cy Thompson said. “The only people that seem to have nice boats are the ones that either got it container shipped, but more importantly, the Mexicans who have brand new gear in every class that we sail.”
Thompson, who races in the Laser class, said the boats are so old he would not accept one if it was given to him at no cost. He pointed out that the boat rented to the sailor from Antigua was logged with what seemed like 10 gallons of water.
When asked if he thinks that the selective distribution of equipment is a possible move to give certain teams and edge, he replied, “I never put it past these countries.” Thompson speaks from experience, as he was a winner in CAC Games before.
Despite the equipment issues, Team V.I. plans on sailing on to victory.
Thompson sailed his way into the qualifications for the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, by making gold fleet in Spain, earlier in 2014. But he is very aware that preparing for high-level competitions bear a high level of financial considerations.
“The hard part is over, but I guess the next obstacle is the fundraising to keep things going – which is the hardest thing to do,” Thompson said.
According to Thompson, $100,000.00 is a guestimate of what it would cost for his equipment and travels for his international preparation.
“That’s a lot of money, I know, but to stay competitive that’s what you need,” Thompson said. “You need the coaches, the equipment and you need to travel to the events like the big regattas. That’s just the way it is.”
Thompson feels if you go to the Olympics without that level of preparedness, “you’re just showing up.”
“I’ve been there before,” Thompson said of the Olympics. “I want to go back, but this time I want to have a fighting chance.”
Laser class competitions are global events and Thompson would like to have equipment strategically placed at key sailing areas. “When I say equipment, I mean just being able to have boats. One boat in Rio, two boats in the U.S. and one boat in Europe so when I go there I don’t have to keep renting,” Thompson said.
Thompson has the backing and support of the V.I. Sailing Federation, but so do all other members. “It’s tough because there are a ton of athletes – ones that haven’t qualified - and need their (federation) support as well,” Thompson said. They help as much as they can, but sailing is an expensive sport.”
Team V.I. is sailing in the Sunfish, Laser, Laser Radial and the J-24 classes in Veracruz, Mexico, and the V.I. Sailing Federation has high hopes for Team V.I. and hopes that success carries over to other young V.I. sailors. Members of Team V.I. will have at least 10 days of competition in Veracruz, Mexico.
With national title in the Opti class and a win over more than 400 other competitors in the New England’s, the V.I. is expected to continue to produce great sailors.
“Grandma Luge” has retired from competitive luge racing, but not form competitive sports. Now, you can find the senior citizen athlete putting her archery skills on the line for the Virgin Islands.
Anne Abernathy is not the typical 61-year-old. The 6-time Olympian has now converted from negotiating frozen downhill courses to piercing target bulls eyes in the distance – among other things.
“The best thing about Archery is that it’s fun,” Abernathy said. “Everybody can participate at the level where they are.”
Abernathy is currently writing a series of books on Olympic sports and not far into her research she learned a fact that motivated her into action. “I found that the oldest woman to ever win an Olympic medal did so in Archery,” Abernathy said.
Steady progress is the key to development and Abernathy posted her personal bests in both the 70m and 60m distances on Tuesday. She was complemented by younger, but more experiences archers on her performance. “I’m thrilled!” Abernathy said. “The fact that they think I’m doing well – and Coach is still talking to me – it was a great day!”
Team V.I. Archery Coach Ruth Rowe agreed. “Tremendous improvement for somebody who has only shot for 20 months,” Rowe said of Abernathy. “To be shooting what she is shooting now and competing in these tournaments and being successful with them is an indication of a tremendous athlete.”
But Abernathy’s venture into Archery is not just for personal gain. “When I first talked to my coach, the first thing that we talked about was a developmental program for the V.I. Archery is something anybody can do at any age,” she said.
According to Abernathy, the future of Archery in the V.I. is showing potential for growth with ideas including indoor programs and competitions. Indoor competitions can be done online as well through means of Skype and other online video-streaming applications. Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados has already requested that the V.I. join such Archery forums.
Currently, Team V.I. Archery Coach Ruth Rowe and V.I. Archery President Dr. William Coles has a program where the offer open training for anyone interested in discovering the world of Archery. Through donations and equipment purchases, the V.I. Archery Federation provides instructors and equipment for use every weekend.
Rowe said the program is there to get people involved in the sport and potentially develop more members for the V.I. National team
Prospective archers can meet on St. Croix from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium. On St. Thomas, you can give Archery a try at the Montessori School Campus on Sundays from 3 p.m.- until dark and Monday mornings from 6 a.m. -7:30 a.m.
Abernathy still has a couple more days of competition left and the V.I. is hoping that “Grandma Luge” still has time to earn a new name – “Grandma Gold.”
Schedules and scores from the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games can be seen on veracruz2014.mx
Shortly after witnessing an opening ceremony with flair and star power comparable to that of any Olympic Games, Team V.I. got right into competing in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean games in Veracruz, Mexico.
The first Virgin Islands athlete to enter the stadium as flag-bearer was also the first athlete to compete -Jamaris Washshah. “I was actually really excited being nominated to be the flag-bearer,” Washshah said.
The 17-year-old senior at the Country Day Good Hope School on St. Croix, fought off windy conditions as she marched into the stadium in front of tens of thousands of spectators while carrying the V.I. flag and leading the Virgin Islands contingent into the stadium for opening ceremony. “It was big and exhausting, but very entertaining,” Washshah said after carrying the flag and enjoying a performance by Ricky Martin from the front row.
Washshah opened the competition for Team V.I. on Saturday, in the Women’s 50m Backstroke - one of five events that she plans on participating in. After day one, Washshah saw an improvement in her time from 33.81 seconds in the first heat to 33.09 in the finals. Not a winning time in the races, but closer to her personal goal of sub 33 seconds.
“We’re focusing just on ourselves right now,” swimming coach for Team V.I. Jemille Vialet said. “We’re aiming for qualification cuts for other meets and we’re also aiming for records in the Virgin Islands.” Less than a week after Washshah returns home from Veracruz, she will be off to Qatar for another event.
“We were doing a lot of sprint work with her. Just a lot of work just to get her in shape to do these events.” Vialet is also a coach with the Dolphins Swim Club on St. Croix and focused on a wide range of exercises to prepare Washshah.
Coach Vialet is looking beyond competitions as he sees his athletes competing on the college level. Vialet and other staffers at the Dolphin Swim Club feels that a one trick swimmer is not as attractive on the college level. “We train them to swim every event so when they go to college they can be very marketable,” Vialet said.
Vialet also said that the goal is to grow the swim program for both the Virgin Islands and Dolphin Swim Club. He feels of Washshah motivates the younger swimmers in the club. “She’s a very good example. The kids love J.J. All the kids want to be like J.J.”
According to Vialet, the boys in the program are not as much a natural when it comes to dealing with the younger swimmers. Vialet is looking toward reinstituting a mentoring program in the Dolphin Swim Club. He encourages anyone that might be interested in the Dolphins program to call Michelle Sanes at 719-SWIM for more information.
These 2014 Veracruz Games may not have started out with a medal for Team V.I., but maybe Washshah and other athletes can motivate a new generation into representing Team V.I. on the big stage.