Alphonso Bridgewater tells Voice of Russia: St. Kitts & Nevis will climb the podium at London 2012

Alphonso Bridgewater holding the Commonwealth Torch at Government House, St. Kitts

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 7TH 2012 (CUOPM) – The St. Kitts and Nevis National Olympic committee expects the very best of its athletes competing in for the fifth time at the upcoming Olympics in London.

“At least of those who are qualified because we are just taking qualification for the games. We expect them to put in their very best, improve their personal time, achieve their personal best, make it to the finals, win medals. In other words, we have been there since 1996 and we think we have matured to the point, it won’t be too much to expect somebody to mount the podium,” said National Olympic President, Mr. Bridgewater in an interview with The Voice of Russia.

Here is the interview

How many medals do you expect to win?

That is something I can’t say now because we participate in the very best games in the entire world and we are not the ones to make any guesses as to what to expect on that. We just surely want to at least perform the very best on the day. Anything could happen on the day, we want them to perform the very best and at least set the goal of reaching their personal best, making it to the finals, then we will see what happens in terms of mounting the podium after that.

In what kinds of sports does the team take part?

We still immature in the Olympic Committee and up to this point we are still only participating in one discipline so to speak – that’s track and field, but don’t forget, while he haven’t yet gained an Olympic medal, we have had the world champion Kim Collins, we were placed at a junior level at the Central America and Caribbean games, at Pan American Games. We have 4 x 100 meters relay team which has gotten bronze medal at the world games as well. So we are expecting great things from these individuals and these teams.

Can you name sportsmen and sportswomen of your country who are most likely to perform their best?

Once Kim Collins is at these games, you could never rule him out and he’s the most recognized face we have. Members of the 4 x 100 meters relay team also could perform on the big stage. So, those are the names, which come readily to mind – Kim Collins and all the other members who make up that 4 x 100 meters relay team.

How many people compose the national delegation in London?

At this time we are looking at the most 12 persons but it could go anywhere to 16, to 8, to 12 person. That’s what we are looking at.

How many times does the team participate in Olympic Games?

We started, as I indicated earlier, since 1996, as well as in 2000 and 2004, 2008. So, these games in London in2012 would be the fifth time that we participate in the Olympic Games.

How does the team train for the games?

Many of our team members train at home in Saint Kitts and Nevis. And quite a number of them as well go to universities in the United States and as a result of that they participate in NCWA Championships. Beyond that our national Olympic committee works with them to find the competitions to show their skills and to keep them alive just before these games. The vast majority still trains at home and then the others train as they follow their educational pursuits at the universities whether in the States or other places, primarily in the United States of America. And we get quite a lot of assistance. In fact the major assistants we get from the Olympic Solidarity to provide the funding and the support for these athletes to train -whether it is at home or overseas.

Do you think that team might have some difficulties in London like weather conditions, time difference or anything else?

There is always a challenge as we move from place to place to take part in events. But even though most people think we have an excellent weather, and we do have excellent weather, but it sometimes gets too hot for training as well. So, even at home where you think is ideal we worry about the heat sometimes. And the nature of competition internationally means that you have to come up against different seasons, different zones, different environments and even when you have the best environment where the weather is consonant. We have other challenges with food, transportation, accommodations, but it is always a challenge for the athlete and that is why when people win and make it to the podium, we give them such credit, we acknowledge them so much because we know they have to face so many odds.

What is your forecast? Who is going to be the top 5 countries in the team finals?

There is narrowing of the gap in the level of the playing field but you would still have countries there of course: you have the United States, you have London, you have England. Brazil has been making a big showing. We have Brazil move forward, they moved from being a host of Central American and Caribbean Games at the regional level, then they moved to the Pan American level, now they are hosting the Olympic games in 2016. It tells me also that you could see the improvement in terms of the athletic performances, I expect them to be of course reckoned as well. And then, of course, the sprint capital of the world is Jamaica, so I expect them to put in a good performance. And the rest of the smaller countries draw their motivation from countries like Jamaica. Jamaica is in the region, the region, which I am from, the Caribbean and the American, so we draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from them. And the Olympic Games always tend to provide some surprises. You could look forward to some surprises even coming from Saint Kitts and Nevis.

What does the participation in the Olympics mean to your country? Do people support it? What’s their attitude towards the game? Do they like watching the sports?

I indicated to you earlier that the most recognized face of Saint Kitts and Nevis is Kim Collins. That says a lot. That says a lot for the tourist promotion, that says a lot of economic development. The face of Kim Collins was made visible by the Olympic Games, World games and Pan American Games. It does a lot to attract people to the country. When they get to know him and when they find out, which country he is from, people come to visit it, which does something to the tourism industry. When you have at least performed on this level internationally it does a lot for the individual psyche of not just athletes but the individual members of every single community in the country. And we have recognized that as well. Everybody in Saint Kitts and Nevis wants to be an athlete of some sort. Of course, they want to be in the sprints, but not just in sprints, they are trying other disciplines as well, other disciplines that are the part of Olympic program. So, clearly when you hear about country of the size of 50,000 people and you could go down the streets in the capital of Athens and see a life-size picture of our athlete, in this case it was Kim Collins, it tells you what is happening in terms of notoriety of our country. What we also have is the Olympic movement and what it exposes. It’s not just focusing on sports, it’s focusing on the environment, it focuses on the individual psyche, individual personal development of young people. So all of that together makes a difference in the country. The Olympic movement in our country for example is the premier, most outstanding agency in terms of providing assistance and support and providing training and development for all levels of sport, Olympic and non-Olympic sports as well as individual officials. And once you are involved in the administration and management of sports, you automatically become involved in the administration and the management of life, the management of businesses, the management of schools. It’s personal, community and national development process aided by the national Olympic committee and aided by theOlympic Games.

Thank you very much for the interview.

It’s the first time I am visiting Moscow, I hope we will have an opportunity to see it. Most of the times when we come to these meetings, we are in the hotel where the meeting is, it gets even worse when the meeting is in the hotel, so you come from your room to another, and we don’t get a chance to flavor the culture of the country. I noticed some programs that allow some opportunity to do that and I hope we do get an opportunity to flavor it.

I saw there is some kinds of culture program for all the participants, so are you going to take part in it?

That’s one of the other reasons why I have been involved in the Olympic movement – is an educational component and certainly outside of the planning and management, and the policy, I hope that we would get an opportunity to see a little bit of the country.

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