By Neto Baptiste
Veteran national sprinter, Daniel “Bakka” Bailey, could receive support from the Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (ABNOC) in his bid to qualify for a fifth Olympic Games when the postponed Tokyo event is held in 2021.
This is according to President of the NOC, EP Chet Greene, who hailed the athlete’s decision to return to competition, adding that he could receive “tangible” help from the NOC.
“One of the hardest things for an athlete to do is call it quits and so I am not surprised because Bakka is someone near and dear. We have actually elevated him to our athlete’s rep in the regional and international forum so I am not surprised that he continues to have that love for the sport which has done so much for him and for which he has done so much while making a name for himself. Once he is showing signs of fitness and interest then I can now, here, say that the NOC will give tangible support to any comeback efforts that he may wish to engage in,” he said.
Bailey, who still holds the national record of 9.91 seconds over 100 meters, announced, two weeks ago, his intentions to qualify for the games. He said the postponement of the 2020 Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, presents an opportunity for what he believes is a fitter, more driven version of himself to qualify and compete at a fifth Olympic Games.
Bailey however, will not be the only athlete to benefit from the NOC as, according to Greene, those currently falling under the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship initiative, will continue receiving benefits.
“We have not had any request for extra support from any athlete. The NOC, like any other organisation, is functioning at a very minimal level in terms of communication. We do telephone contact, we don’t have the regular board meetings ate the like but in the absence of any requests from our athletes we have not volunteered any additional support. All of the programmes globally have to be re-evaluated but I can say publicly here that for our athletes overseas and who are on scholarships that thse scholarship resources will continue to go in their direction,” the NOC boss said.
Greene also heralded the IOC’s decision to postpone the event which was originally scheduled for July 24 to August 9.
“I think it was the only sensible decision that could have been taken under the circumstance, especially when you look at all the affected stakeholder groups. First, the athletes and their preparation for the games, the mental stress and torture that this whole COVID is placing athletes and their preparation under. Take the host country Japan and the enormous millions they would have invested in infrastructure and preparations. Take the fans who are so quintessentially important to the success of the games and you could see that all around, there was pressure, there was tension, there was stress and the decision to postpone the games to 2021 was the only sensible decision,” he said.
At 33 years old, Bailey has competed at four Olympic Games with stints in Athens, Greece in 2004; Beijing, China in 2008; London, England in 2012; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.
He was the bronze medallist over 60 metres at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships and has also won sprint medals at Caribbean regional level. He, however, came to prominence in 2009 with a 100 meters win in the IAAF Golden League and a fourth place finish at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics.