By Morissa Lindsay
Four of Barbados’ top junior wrestlers are chasing history as they seek to bring home medals for the first time at the Under-15 level of the Pan American Championship scheduled to take place from November 2 to 9 in Medellin, Colombia.
Head coach Yaima Payne said based on how preparation has gone and the fact that two of the athletes – 14-year-old Combermere student Rebecca Williams and Kodi Marshall age 15 of Queen’s College – have experience at this level, it is a plus for Barbados. Those two will be joined by first-timers Ayden Williams of St. Leonard’s Boys and Kamar Williams of Alexandra School who are both 15-years old.
“Now we have more flexibility in the sport, it is way easier now for the athletes to train and prepare now that the protocols have eased up in the country. The team is still preparing and we are actually happy to increase the number of athletes that will represent Barbados because in the past it just only used to be one or two but now we have four, three boys and one girl.
“The beauty about it as well, they all come from different secondary schools, Alexandra, Queen’s College, St. Leonard’s and Combermere. They are doing pretty well, training hard and getting ready for a good performance because we can expect good results coming for Barbados,” Payne told Barbados TODAY.
Barbados has never won a medal in the Under-15 category at the Pan American Championship but Payne as the head coach is hoping to turn that around. The island’s lone medal at the Pan American Championship level was captured this year in the Under-17 Division by Alleyne School student Adrian Maynard when the competition was held in June in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was an historic moment for Maynard and team Barbados as he stood on the podium with a bronze medal proudly worn around his neck.
“I think this year is our year because a few of them have the exposure from last year so this is the second year for Kodi Marshall and Rebecca Williams who both finished fourth in the Pan American Championship. So, this year I think it is going to be one of the great years for them while the other two boys Ayden and Kamar Williams are first timers. Ayden comes from the Richmond Wrestling Programme at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School. That is the programme that I am teaching and he comes from that programme,” Payne explained.
Coach Payne also credited the recently concluded and well-organized Barbados Beach Wrestling Open Tournament which she said all four athletes used as preparation for the Pan American Championship and the fact they were able to medal was pleasing for the
Rollins Alleyne-led Barbados Wrestling Association.
“The Barbados Beach Wrestling Open was phenomenal and fantastic. All four of the athletes who are going to represent Barbados competed in the event and Rebecca Williams won gold in her weight category and Kamar Williams won silver, Kodi Marshall won gold and Ayden Williams won bronze. Actually, the Barbados Beach Open was one of the testing events for them before they leave for the Pan American Championship,” Payne added.
Following the Pan American Championship, the talented four will return home to Barbados where they will feature in the annual Barbados Olympic Association BiiG Games scheduled for Sunday, November 13th.