By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) and former national sprinter, Everton Cornelius, believes that associations that do not have national championships should not receive funding from the National Olympic Committee (NOC).
“Every association in Antigua that is affiliated with the NOC must and should have a national championship, or else they should not get any money from the NOC, and if I show up at your national championships as a member of the NOC, and you have six participants, and next year when I come you still have the same six then I am not giving you any money because you’re not making any progress,” he said.
The administrator who also hinted that priority for funding should be given to the more popular sports was, at the time, speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show and highlighted the impact of insufficient funding on athletics and its elite athletes.
Cornelius reiterated that for Antigua and Barbuda to have a real chance of medaling at a recognised international meet, there must be a significant increase in the amount of funding currently available to any single athlete.
“An athlete that we are going to fund in the 100 meters should be running x time, and just for discussion I will say 10:50, 26 seconds for the 200, 40 seconds for the 400, but we know that once you are within that area that you deserve to have funding to move you to the next stage,” he said.
“Funding must be commensurate with our expectations. This $1000 per month from the NOC, and think that that can fund an athlete, just can’t’ meet it. To fund an athlete seriously, if you are talking about vying for a medal at the Olympics or at least, getting into the final of the Olympics, the World Championships or Commonwealth Games, it is going to cost you a minimum of EC$100,000.00 for one athlete for a duration of about 10 months,” he added.
The athletics boss said it will take a national approach to ensure that the country’s elite athletes are properly funded.
“National representation does not rest on the association and on the NOC alone, it rests on a country because the athletes do not represent themselves, because if they go out and they win a medal, all of us jump up and want to have Carnival, so we must, as a government number one; and the question needs to be asked as to what do the athletes need now that they are at a particular level. We need financial investment into our athletes so that the athletes can compete at the highest level. This needs a national effort,” Cornelius said.
A number of athletes over the past year, have voiced their dissatisfaction with the level of funding, or lack thereof, coming from the relevant sporting bodies across Antigua.
Shot-put athlete, Jess St. John in 2020, accused the NOC of ignoring her requests for funding, a claim the Olympic body has denied, while veteran sprinter Daniel Bailey, also in 2020, lashed out at both the NOC and the government over what he termed a lack of financial support throughout his career.