ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Antigua & Barbuda was forced to cancel a planned one-week camp in London that would have served to prepare and acclimatise national athletes ahead of the 2012 London Olympics slated to commence on July 27.
This is according to President of the NOC, Paul “Chet” Greene, who revealed on Tuesday that the local body is faced with the task of convincing athletes to break their regular pre-tournament routines to join the Antigua camp.
“We had signed an agreement with a camp facility in London but what is happening though is that we are not getting the responses from the associations involved and so just yesterday, we cancelled the camp which should have been a week ahead of the games,” he said.
“What we are hearing is that the athletes are saying it would be difficult for them to go to London one week in advance and all kinds of excuses. We thought we were doing the best thing in terms of getting the athletes ahead of time into London for their preparations and acclimatisation that we think is reasonable but you don’t get the kind of support,” he said.
Greene added that the country’s two top athletes attending the Games had indicated early their unavailability for the camp and that with such a small contingent already qualified, it would not have been plausible to invest in a camp.
“You hear that Daniel Bailey is going to be in London with the Jamaica team and that he will be in camp with them in some other part in London other than where the Antigua team was supposed to be. Brendon Christian has always indicated a preference to come in just ahead of the event he is taking part in and then leave right after; and so really and truly, with a small team, you will realise that it leaves us with one athlete to date and the others of whom we are awaiting responses with respect of universality spots, we can’t factor them into a camp as yet,” the NOC head said.
The former commissioner of sports said further that the pros and cons had to be weighed before any rash decisions were made and that, in the end, it was decided to respect the wishes of the athletes.
“Having to deal with the issue of Daniel Bailey camping with Jamaica or camping with Antigua and the question is, where is he best suited and where is his interest and national interest best served – in a camp marked Antigua & Barbuda or in a camp where he is allowed preparation standards that we would not have with a team of only two athletes in himself and Brendon Christian,” he said.
“In the case of Brendon Christian, do we insist that he comes to a camp organised by the NOC. Do we respect his wish and habit of showing up for only the event and if we take two athletes out of three, is a camp really necessary,” Greene added.
Three athletes, including sprinters Bailey and Christian along with swimmer Kristal Clashing have all qualified for the 2012 Olympics to date.
Bailey will contest the 100-metre event, while Christian has qualified for both the 100 and 200 metre races. Clashing received a universality spot from the IOC to compete at the summer event.
The NOC, according to Greene, has applied for a number of universality sports and are awaiting word from the IOC before a complete team is released to the public.