BOA/IGT Spirit of Resilience Sports Awards 2021
(PLEASE NOTE: The Opening Address and the video were from a previously recorded Virtual Ceremony)
It is my pleasure, on behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of the Barbados Olympic Association, to welcome you to our 2021 Awards Ceremony.
Your Excellency, our joy and pride on your installation as the first President of Barbados cannot be overstated and we wish you many years as the first Barbadian Head of State. Thank you for honouring us with your virtual presence.
Mr Minister, we acknowledge your presence at your first BOA Awards Ceremony in your capacity as Minister responsible for Sport.
It is an honour for us to have in our presence Mrs Nicole Hoevertsz, the first Vice President of the International Olympic Committee to hail from the Caribbean. We are delighted that you have accepted our invitation to be the Guest Speaker tonight and look forward to your insightful remarks.
Having had to cancel our awards ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic, we are delighted that we are able to host this virtual ceremony tonight to recognise Award Winners who have excelled in Sport in 2020 and 2021. We extend a special welcome to you and congratulate you on your outstanding performances.
The theme of tonight’s awards “Spirit of Resilience” is a fitting tribute to everyone in the sporting community given the challenges in the last 20 months. We have all had to make adjustments, but many positive lessons have emerged from the Covid-19 experience. Foremost among these is that this pandemic has shown how resilient we are as a people.
The cancellation of many sporting competitions and the lockdowns, curfews, and other restrictions made competing either non-existent or very challenging, and yet, we have seen Sports Administrators and Coaches find innovative ways of continuing to function and we have seen our Athletes rise above the challenges, showing incredible resilience, commitment and discipline to perform at their best. We acknowledge all the frontline workers who have toiled to keep us safe in the pandemic, but we consider the entire sporting community, not just those who are being honoured tonight, also to be heroes.You could have given up but you persisted. Our Athletes performed at their best and deserve our support and praise. We celebrate some of them tonight but recognise all those who have stayed the course.
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the cancellation of many qualifying and other sporting competitions provided the BOA with the opportunity to focus on adapting to our new environment by taking our educational offerings online and celebrating events in virtual format, while continuing the work of our various Commissions. This included the Capital Works Commission which is working closely with the Barbados Hockey Federation to oversee the completion of Phase 2 of the National Hockey Centre funded through the Panam Sports’ Olympamerica Grant.
We all looked forward with great anticipation to Tokyo 2020 in July/August 2021 and celebrated the qualification of eight Athletes in two disciplines.
Qualification for such an elite event means they are among the very best in the world in their Sport. We must never forget that. We commend our team and their results, noting that we had a number of seasons’ bests, two new national records, and a number of semi-finalists.
For the first time in many years, the Paralympic Association of Barbados, with whom we have a very close working relationship, was able to participate in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and we all watched proudly as Anthwahn Boyce-Vaughan competed in swimming.
We also participated in the recently concluded inaugural Junior Panam Games in Cali, Colombia, where fourteen Athletes between the ages of 17 and 21 competed in eight disciplines, and where Swimmer Jack Kirby proudly won a bronze medal in the 100 metres backstroke.
One of our strategic pillars is to inspire excellence and fuel the passion of Athletes. We aspire to some ambitious targets to win medals between now and Paris 2024, all the time seeking out better ways to support our Athletes and National Federations. Based on submissions made recently by National Federations for Paris 2024 Olympic Solidarity scholarships, we have identified twelve Athletes and will be seeking to more closely align the high-performance goals of their National Federations with our own ambitions. Although we recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done at many levels to produce world class Athletes, this more targeted and collaborative approach is intended to give Elite Athletes better support and by extension a more realistic chance of success. I am therefore pleased to announce that the Board recently approved a substantial increase in Elite Athlete funding for 2022. This means we will spend an additional one million dollars approximately on Elite Athlete funding, while maintaining existing levels of support for Athletes in the High Performance, Developing and Emerging categories. The funding is, of course, subject to certain conditions which will be discussed with the relevant National Federations.
We have three Games on our calendar for 2022 – the Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and the Beach Games in Santa Marta, Colombia. Driven by our commitment to provide as safe an environment as possible for teams under our umbrella, we recently introduced a compulsory Covid-19 vaccination policy which will take effect from January 1, 2022.