In 2004 we started a campaign to send a Barbudan to the 2012 Olympics.
In March 2006, we asked Peter Cuffy why we should be saying send a Barbudan to the Olympics. Peter Cuffy is the track and field coach of the Barbuda Falcons Athletics Club and for athletics in general in Barbuda.
bb: What is your background?
PC: I am from Dominica, but I have lived in Barbuda for a long time. I am married to a Barbudan and we have a small child. I am a track and field coach for the Barbuda Council and the Barbuda Falcons Athletics Club. I am certified as a coach by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). From September to December 2004 I attended an IOC coaching course in Budapest with coaches from all over the world.
bb: Was the IOC course helpful?
PC: Most definitely helpful in training methods, conditioning, and nutrition. Furthermore, the course prepared me for the current challenges of keeping athletes motivated and at a high standard with little equipment or facilities and limited opportunities of competing outside Antigua and Barbuda. Some are discouraged by not being able to travel through lack of funds.
bb: I see you training at HTS in the afternoons
PC: Yes, I have a group of some very talented young athletes. Recently I took a team of 25 to the national Inter-School Track and Field Championships in Antigua. We won five gold medals, two silver, and one bronze. Maverick Weatherhead won three gold medals, while Derol Thomas won two golds. Janella John won silver in the under-15 800 metres after being out for two years.
bb: Maverick Weatherhead and the 2012 Olympics?
PC: No not the 2012, the 2008 Olympics is a strong possibility with sponsorship and competition. Not only the Olympics, but the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. In 2005 Maverick qualified for the World Youth Championships where he would have represented Antigua and Barbuda. In the 2005 Carifta Games, when he was 14, he came fourth in the under-17 800 and 1500 metres. In the Leeward Islands Junior Championships 2005, Maverick won two gold medals in the under-17 800 and 1500 metres.
Maverick, who is still only 15 years old, will be competing in the under-17 age group at the 2006 Carifta Games for the Antigua and Barbuda national team. The games are being held over the Easter weekend in Guadeloupe.
bb: The World Youth Championships, that’s impressive!
PC: Indeed it was. Sadly the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association had no funds to send Maverick and he couldn’t compete. He will qualify for the World Junior Championships in August 2006 in Beijing and hopefully for the 2007 World Youth Championships. He desperately needs sponsorship for these events; a considerable amount of sponsorship. Maverick has tremendous potential, but we must get him the competition he needs.
Maverick’s fastest electronic times at the end of March 2006 are
- 400 metres; 50.14s
- 800 metres; 1.57.27
- 1500 metres; 4.10.00
His times will come down over the next few weeks of intensive training and competition in the Carifta Games.
bb: Is sponsorship difficult to find?
PC: The Barbuda Falcon’s Club does receive sponsorship, but not enough. The Barbuda Council helps, but it has many other commitments. A very kind guest at the Coco Point Lodge gave a donation to assist the athletes, especially Maverick. We bought a uniform and running shoes for Maverick and paid for the senior boys to work out at the gym. We also bought training equipment, including whistles, a stop watch, three relay batons, skipping ropes, and ice packs. We used some of the money to provide Maverick with asthma medication and for a proper medical check up. It will also fund his second check up, which is scheduled soon.
The athletes’ parents are wonderful, they have paid out of their own pockets for their children to travel many times.
bb: Do you organise fund raising events?
PC: Yes we do. The Barbuda Falcons will be selling food and drinks at various events as well as collecting donations. We are planning events to raise funds for all the club’s athletes as well as Maverick and to develop our own facilities. We have several aspiring youngsters developing, for example Archimore Walbrook in the long jump, as well as Derol and Janella.
bb: You have no facilities?
PC: We need a proper training area. At present the club trains at Holy Trinity School which has a 200 metre dirt track with tight bends. As the track is so small the runners are unable to pace themselves properly, which hampers the development of their racing and tactical skills. Even grass would be OK. An area west of the Sunset Hotel before the horse racing track has been designated for athletics. The club has started to clear the area, but it has to be fenced to keep out the animals and vehicles, and then grassed.
With our own facilities we could organise our own events and bring people in. The Barbuda Falcons are planning some cross-country races and would like to hold a 5 km road race when the roads are properly surfaced. These events would benefit the economy of the island as well as the athletes.
bb: Thank you Peter. We urge Barbudans overseas and anyone interested in sponsoring the athletes to email Peter via our contact page.