By Neto Baptiste
High jumper Priscilla Frederick has pointed to deficiencies in communication and inadequate funding as two of the major challenges faced by athletes based outside Antigua.
Speaking from the US, Frederick said she has struggled financially over the years as she sought to represent the twin-island state, while the communication between herself and the relevant authorities here have not always been at its best.
“Cejhae Greene and I train in the States [USA] and his dad is still there [in Antigua] so he had better communication. I am learning the process and understanding the levels to it all, and there are things that are beyond the NOC’s control because they can’t release the funds to us until they get everyone’s paper work back. So, if someone is late on the paperwork or receipts, then I can’t get funding,” she said.
“When I was living with a landlord, I couldn’t go to my landlord and say I am running late because so and so didn’t return their receipts, which means I don’t get my funding so I have been threatened to be evicted multiple times,” she added.
The Pam Am Games silver medallist, who recently hinted she could retire at the end of this year, said she was forced to seek employment as the bills became insurmountable, a move which has cost her dearly where it pertains to training and competition time.
“Rent, food, even nutrition supplements and anything you do regarding training is more than the funds they are giving us which [forces me] to have to work, and it’s partially the reason why so many people from Antigua have retired … especially females, because they just can’t afford it,” Frederick said.
“I have to pay for health insurance; health insurance is extremely expensive, but I don’t have it because I can’t afford it. So there are many different obstacles we go through that people may think that we are just money hungry in a sense, but it’s our livelihood, it’s a job. This is our career and if it is to be put number one then we have to put our bodies number one, and if we don’t have the funds to do that then …” she added.
Despite the struggles, Frederick said she does not regret the decision to represent Antigua and Barbuda.
“Mr. Greenaway, obviously before he passed, I reached out to him and he knew of my connection with Antigua and I didn’t know about it growing up or else I would have been a part of it sooner. I would have tried for Carifta and I would have done it since high school,” she said.
“Antigua has given me the opportunity to compete at different games when the USA didn’t believe in me enough or in enough time. I live in the US but my mother is Dominican and my father is Antiguan, so the only ties I have to America is that I was born there. Other than that, my blood is from the Caribbean,” she added. Ranked 39th in the world, Frederick recently won silver at the 2019 Pam American Games held in Lima, Peru, after she registered a leap of 1.87 meters (6.13 feet). The athlete had also won silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games held in Canada.