Triple Olympian and 2002 Commonwealth Games 400 metres gold medalist Aliann Pompey has expressed her frustration at not being able to compete at this year’s inaugural Caribbean Games in Trinidad and Tobago next month, since it was cancelled.
Speaking with Stabroek Sport via telephone from New York, Pompey said that the event was part of her schedule and probably one of ‘the’ most important, since it would have given her a chance to compete in the Caribbean which was not often. She said also that the Caribbean Games would have played an integral part in her preparation for the August 15-23 World Championships scheduled to be held in Germany.
“I was really looking forward for the Caribbean Games because it’s a special event for me because I think bringing together some of the Caribbean world class athletes to compete against each other would have been remarkable,” Pompey said.
She further noted: “For long Ato Bolton was trying to put together a circuit where Caribbean athletes can come together because when you go to Europe, the European athletes get first preference, when you run in North America, their athletes get preference so it was time they put something in place so Caribbean athletes can meet, because today most of the world’s top athletes are from the Caribbean.”
Pompey suggested that it would be great if the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Commit-tees (CANOC) could find a replacement for the Games because of its significance, not only for her but for the entire Caribbean for the rare chance to see their athletes in action. The 30-year-old 400 metres specialist has brought tremendous pride and glory to her homeland with the most notable being her gold medal performance in the 2004 Commonwealth Games in England when she clocked 51.34 seconds.
However, Pompey was able to run her personal best at last year’s Olympic Games in Beijing when she did 50.93 seconds qualifying for the semi-finals in the event.
Looking at her performance this year, Pompey said it was not as good as she would have wanted but with continuous work it would get better.
This year Pompey ran 51.09 seconds in the 400 metres when she competed at the “Grande Prêmio Brasil Caixa/Governo do Pará de Atletismo” in Belém, Brazil on May 24, placing second to Bobby-Gaye Wilkins of Jamaica.
The former Manhattan College and NCAA All-American track star said her next meet would be in Bulgaria and then Ireland but she will still need to find a meet to fill the gap of the Caribbean Games.
An outbreak of the H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) in the Twin Island Republic was cited for the cancellation of the Games by the authorities. However, it is not yet known whether they would put any alternative arrangement in place or wait until its next installment in 2013 in Cuba.
So far president of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K.A. Juman Yassin has expressed his disappointment at the cancellation and stated that he was surprised.
Contacted on Friday, Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony said that he did not yet have all the details surrounding the Caribbean Games cancellation but as soon as he could he would make an official statement.
The Caribbean Games was touted as the Caribbean Olympics since it would have brought together over 2,000 athletes, officials and media from 40 countries.