By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, has cautioned athletes against bypassing the national association and seeking to access funding directly from the Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (NOC).
His warning comes amidst ongoing debate over funding for national athletes and who should be eligible for financial support.
Cornelius said that subverting the national course of first opening dialogue with the national association could complicate the process.
“What I found has happened over a period of time is that sometimes athletes go directly to the NOC, and the NOC, at times, deals directly with the athletes and sometimes it causes confusion. I think that is what brings us to this situation with Bakka [Daniel Bailey] and Jess St John because they are saying they spoke directly to the general secretary of the NOC [Cliff Williams] when they should be speaking with the athletics association. I have always said to the athletes that if you need assistance, then write to us so that we have it on record and then we would do the necessary paperwork to send it to the NOC,” he said.
In a recent interview, national sprinter Daniel Bailey said his request for funding has been turned down by the NOC as he prepares for the World Indoor Championships in March next year. His ultimate goal, the athlete said, is the 2020 Olympic Games slated for July 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Cornelius explained that all athletes must first register their requests with the association if they are to stand a better chance of accessing funds.
“Any athlete who wants to access funding from the NOC, first of all they should make their application through the athletics association, then the athletics association, on behalf of the athlete, would make the necessary submission to the NOC, giving the reason why we think they should support the particular athlete, and whatever other information they may require from us, the athletics association would be responsible to send that information to them, so they could be able to make an informed decision. Once that decision is in the favour of the athlete, then they would cut a cheque or whatever it is and let us know that they have approved this, and this is how we will proceed going forward,” he said.
National shot-put athlete, Jess St John, has also criticised the process, stating that she has been trying to access funding from the NOC for quite some time, without success.