STATEMENT BY DR. THE HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE, YOUTH AFFAIRS, FISHERIES AND AGRICULTURE
AT THE NINTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE
FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2020
SPORTS DEVELOPMENT AND ATHLETIC UPDATE
Mister Speaker, I take this opportunity to update this Honourable House on my Ministry’s support of sports development and to report on some of our athletes as they continue to promote the Territory through their outstanding performances.
Mister Speaker, the Government stands firm in its belief that sports is vital to the individual, social and economic wellbeing of the people of the Territory. This Government stands committed to supporting and promoting sports as part of our national development. We believe that sports should be accessible to all, and this administration has not only pledged but provided funds to support and develop our elite athletes.
Mister Speaker, on Wednesday 6th January, 2021 this Government made a firm statement of support to four of our Olympic hopefuls. Kyron McMaster, Ashley Kelly, Eldred Henry and Chantel Malone were gifted with a donation of $25,000 each towards their training.
Mister Speaker, I must commend the many sports federations, associations, and clubs who continue the work to develop our athletes to compete not only locally but also regionally and internationally. I also acknowledge the BVI Olympic Committee, which has an elite training programme and which is also a partner in helping develop sports in the Territory.
In order to have athletes performing well on the world stage, Mister Speaker, young athletes must receive the training and conditioning necessary to help them improve through all the levels of their sport. I must once again recognise the BVI Athletic Association who has maintained a development programme for its athletes and has produced some outstanding athletes over the years. We strongly encourage our associations and federations to incorporate developmental programmes.
Mister Speaker, we must recognise and celebrate the many accomplishments of our star athletes. Chantel Malone surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard in the Long Jump with a 7.08m jump to win the Florida International Pro Addition Track Meet. This jump is a new BVI National Record that ranks second in the history of Central American & Caribbean female athletes, and it will soon be ratified as a world number two ranked for 2021.
Mister Speaker, Chantel is joined by Kyron McMaster, who established a new BVI National Record by securing a second place finish at the USA Track and Field (USATF) Golden Games Track Meet at Mt. Sac, running with a time of 47.50 seconds. In his World ranked #2 performance, Kyron broke his previous National Record of 47.54, which he established in 2018.
I must also share the accomplishments of our newest rising star, 15-year-old Adaejah Hodge, Mister Speaker. Miss Hodge established a new BVI Under 17 Girls 200m Record and a new personal best. She is currently ranked World number 1 for Under 16 girls and World number 7 for Under 18 girls. Adaejah also holds the current World number 1 ranking for Under 16 girls in the 100m and a World number 10 ranking for Under 18 girls 100m.
Additionally, Mister Speaker, Adaejah dominates in the 400m, where she holds the current World U16 girls number 1 rank and the current World number 13 ranking for Under 18 girls.
She also performs outstandingly in the long jump, where she ranks number 3 worldwide and 13th when ranking with Under 18 girls worldwide.
Mister Speaker, without question, Chantel, Kyron, and Adaejah are among our BVI star athletes. Professional and emerging!
We have BVI Love and pride for our three Olympic hopefuls Miss Chantel Malone who has qualified for the Women’s Long Jump; Kyron McMaster who has qualified for the Men 400 Meter Hurdles; and Eldred Henry who has qualified to compete in the Men’s Shot Put.
Mister Speaker, we have the opportunity for more Olympic hopefuls in Elinah Phillips and Ashley Kelly and hopefully others.
As our athletes continue to prepare, Mister Speaker, let us cheer them on once again as they strive to bring home the Gold.
Mister Speaker, also this summer, we are hopeful that our athletes will have the opportunity to compete in the NACAC Under 18 and Under 23 Championships from 9th – 11th July in San Jose, Costa Rica and the World Athletics Under 20 Championship from 11th – 22nd August in Nairobi, Kenya.
After the Summer Olympics, Mister Speaker, our professional athletes will continue to represent us. Ms. Elinah Phillip and Mr. Thad Lettsome will compete in the first ever Junior Pan American Games for athletes under 23 years. These Games will be held in Cali, Columbia from 25th November to 5th December, 2021. This will be another proud moment for the BVI, and we will send BVI Love and support to Thad and Eldred.
Mister Speaker, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture continues to partner with the BVI Olympic Committee to promote the importance of sports through the Long Term Athlete Development school programme which encourages and promotes sports for life, and the development of the National Sports Management Council. I reiterate that the Ministry is in collaboration with the BVI Olympic Committee in the delivery of a working document that should speak to the organisation of local sports, a level of accountability for government resources, cooperation among the sporting bodies and associations as it relates to use of facilities, resources and initiatives, efforts towards sports tourism and the development of new sporting facilities and new areas of interest in sports. Work is well underway in the delivery of this document.
Mister Speaker, this summer promises to be one of anticipation and excitement for our athletes and the Territory. As Minister for Sports, I pledge to continue to support our athletes in their endeavours as they develop, and I encourage all our residents to give then our full support as they represent the BVI on the world’s stage and make us proud.