St Lucia’s preparation for the 2012 London Olympics and the athletes competing there was the focus of a recent press conference at Olympic House located at Barnard Hill. The big news is St Lucia has an additional Olympic athlete.
While addressing the media, President of the St Lucia Olympic (SLOC), Richard Peterkin, gave a brief summary of the qualifying standards for an athlete to compete in the Olympics and said: “We [SLOC] have supported athletes of many sports to try and meet the standards for the games with some disappointments, because we have always had difficulties having athletes represent us at a wider range of sports at the Olympics.”
The first Olympic formally announced by the SLOC President is St Lucia’s multi Sportswoman of the Year and world ranked high jumper Levern Spencer. She been attending a High Performance Training Centre in Cologne, Germany for the past five months was organized by the SLOC.
Peterkin said having Spencer train there is the best way of ensuring her best possible performance at the Olympics and ensure she will perform better than she ever has.”
Another high jumper Darvin Edwards is also Olympic bound. He is the national and OECS record holder. His career best is 2.31metres which was set in Daegu, South Korea at the 2011 IAAF World Championships which got him to the finals.
Referring to Edwards, Peterkin said “he’s had more of a challenge in comparison to Levern when it comes to his training.”
For some years now, Edwards had been training In London but is now in St Lucia after choosing to represent his country at the Olympics, which led to a difference of opinion with officials in the UK.
Peterkin did not go into the fine details concerning his abrupt departure from London but did say: “He [Edwards] felt he was not getting the attention he needed compared to some of the other British athletes and so he elected to come to St Lucia and has been here since April.”
The SLOC President went on to say: ‘We have been doing our best to try and assist him as we do all of the athletes who have qualified or are trying to qualify for the games. What we are trying to arrange, is for him to attend a pre Olympic training camp in Hertfordshire with his coach, to ensure he gets acclimatized to the conditions in England.
The third Olympic qualifier mentioned was swimmer Danielle Beaubrun who was the beneficiary of an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship. Beaubrun who attends Florida Gulf Coast University will compete in the 100 metre breaststroke. Like Spencer this is her second Olympics having also competed in Beijing.
Seemingly, Beaubrun booked her ticket to the London Olympics in the 100m breaststroke at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her time was good enough for a B standard placing for the Olympics.
Recently though the SLOC was informed by FINA (world governing body for swimming) that given the popularity of the sport the quota for aquatic events are high. Therefore even swimmers like Beaubrun (and there are many) who attained the B standard and not the A standard are in danger of not qualifying for the Olympics.
Rather than take that risk, FINA recommended the SLOC apply for a universality place for Beaubrun which they did.
Peterkin said: “In that respect while we feel she has qualified while she met that B standard but she is effectively going under a universality place. It does not make a difference. She will be there [Olympics]. She will swim.”
Beth Lygo is the fourth and the latest inductee to St Lucia’s Olympic team. Lygo who was born in the UK but is a St Lucian citizen, will compete in sailing (radial laser class). She is probably well known to St Lucians for her expertise in kite surfing, which she
regularly in Vieux Fort and Cas en Bas Lygo was introduced to the SLOC by the sailing federation several years ago. The SLOC assisted her in going to competitions as far away as Australia and Germany in order to qualify for the Olympics.
She didn’t quite make it. However, because Lygo was close to the qualifying mark, the SLOC applied for an invitational place, knowing full well preference is given to countries who do not have several competitors going to the Olympics.
In closing Peterkin said: “We feel we have a great group of athletes, the best possible coaches we can give them under the circumstances and therefore we are encouraged that we have good participation.”
During a question and answer session the SLOC President was asked “how much is St Lucia spending in terms of preparing and sending our athletes to the Olympics?”
Peterkin replied: “We spend on so many programs and not all of them are distinctly for preparation.
As a wild estimate I think we are looking at something in the region of US$2 million over the last four years. Almost all of it is funded by Olympic Solidarity.”
He was quick to announce “none of that money comes from the Government of St Lucia.”