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Thirty years of sporting achievements

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Since the achievement of political independence thirty years ago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has had some sporting achievements that are worth noting.

Whilst the returns may not be commensurate with the abundance of raw talent that exists in this plural country, they must be highlighted.{{more}}

Athletics

Eswort Coombs at the World University Games in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1995 won gold in the 400m and probably may go down as the most significant sporting accomplishment during the last thirty years.

A year later, Coombs reached the semi finals in the 400m at the Atlanta Olympics, the only Vincentian to have reached that stage of Athletics’ premier event thus far.

Orde Ballantyne became the first Vincentian to win a Carifta gold in the Shot Putt seniors at the Nassau, Bahamas, event in 1981. Ballantyne made the All American list in 1989 of the NCAA while a student of the University of Idaho.

Rohan Saunders and Marvette Collis were to follow Ballantyne’s footsteps, but at the Under-17 level of the Junior Carifta games. Saunders won the High Jump and Collis, the 200m, in 1983 and 1989, respectively.

Bigna Samuel won gold in the 1500m at the 1982 Caribbean and Central America Junior Championships.

Pamenos Ballantyne has been the King of the Caribbean Roads, notching up many victories in road races, and is a seven time winner in the Clico Trinidad and Tobago Marathon.

Football

On cue with gaining Independence from Britain, this country placed second in the Caribbean Football Union Cup in 1979, overcoming powerhouses Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines repeated that feat in Puerto Rico in 1981, announcing its status as a Caribbean Football force.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was to enter the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time, and got to the semi final stage of the CONCACAF zone.

Also in 1995, St. Vincent and the Grenadines finished second to Trinidad and Tobago in the Shell Caribbean Cup and gained a place in the prestigious Gold Cup in the USA the following year.

Beating Jamaica in 2006 at the Jamaica National Stadium and ousting that country from the Digicel tournament must be inked in this country’s sporting history.

Most recently, the Under-20 team reaching the finals of the Caribbean zone was a first at aged tournaments, and the defeat of Haiti was also a first by this country at any level.

Cricket

Two years after Independence, St. Vincent and the Grenadines hosted its first One Day International in February. In 1997, the first test was to come our way when the West Indies hosted Sri Lanka in June.

During the past 30 years, this country has seen five players representing the West Indies in the test arena.

Winston Davis made his debut in 1983. Then it was Ian Allen, Cameron Cuffy and Nixon Mc Lean, with Deighton Butler representing the regional side in One day Internationals.

Davis was the leading wicket taker in the 1983 regional Cricket season, and in that same year established a world record for most wickets in a One Day International when he took 7 for 51 against Australia in the 1983 World Cup.

Basketball

The post independence period saw this country producing its first NBA player in Adonal Foyle, with Sancho Lyttle becoming the first WNBA candidate. Lyttle was to be followed by Sophia Young.

Netball

St. Vincent and the Grenadines copped the Caribbean senior title jointly in 1993, and did so alone in 1998.

At the Under-16 level, the lone triumph was in 1999.

Additionally, this country has ruled at the sub -regional OECS level, with several wins at the Under-23 and in the champion of champions club tournament.

Special Olympics

Not to be outdone, gold medals were gained at the Special Olympics in Five-a-Side Football and Bocce, achieved in 1995 and Floor Hockey in 1997.

Worthy mention

Mention must go the OECS Squash titles, the few Table Tennis crowns including Sean Stanley’s Singles win, among other commendable performances in Boxing and Junior Tennis.

The development of several hard courts, the refurbishing of some playing fields and facilities along with other infrastructural progress have been pluses.

Happy 30th Independence Anniversary and Happy Homecoming to All!

No worthy mention for the “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

email: kingroache@yahoo.com

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