Local Olympians recognised

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, July 6, 2019

Several Guyanese Olympians were last evening given the recognition they deserve after representing Guyana on the biggest stage for sports. Through the hard work and dedication of these athletes, Guyana has been placed on the map in the area of sports.

Some of those athletes participated in the Olympics as far back as 1976. The Olympians celebrated at the Pegasus Hotel last evening.

Those athletes honoured include some household names such as Michael Parris, Aliann Pompey, Winston George and James Wren-Gilkes. Some of the other Olympians were Aliyah Abrams, Jennifer Innis- Stephens, Adam Harris, Geoffrey Sankies, Jeremy Bascom, Gordon Carew, Evan Parris and Andrew Harry. Missing from last night’s event were Niall Roberts, Richard Jones and June Griffith.

Sankies was present at the 1976 Olympics but did not participate due to a boycott of African Nations. He was slated to represent Guyana in the discipline of Judo where he was expected to do exceptionally well. Nevertheless, he said being there and carrying the Golden Arrowhead at the march-pass was an unbelievable feeling.

Sankies said the recognition is a good thing for all those who were forgotten. “I hope they can get the recognition and be held as role models for school children who can look up to them and learn from them.”

Aliann Pompey has represented Guyana on several occasions at the prestigious games. However, she said it was always a proud moment to represent the ‘land of many waters’ on such a big stage. Pompey, who is a 400 sprinter, competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She said the pride felt when competing is wonderful but being recognised by her home country incomparable.

“I am actually very emotional because nothing like this has ever happened for us as Olympians. There are 15 Olympians here and being able to share our stories, our glory days, I am very glad that this has happened.”

The only Guyanese to have medalled in the Olympics is Michael Parris who copped a bronze medal in boxing at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Parris said he took pride in what he did and being recognised was just the icing in the cake.

Jennifer Innis-Stephens participated in the 100 metres sprint and long jump at the 1980 Olympics. Innis- Stephens noted that she was always confident of herself and while being at the Olympics “was a big deal”, she was not overwhelmed by the bright lights and large crowds. However, being recognised by her home country for her efforts is another ball game. “I appreciate being honoured and recognized after so many years of service as an athlete,” she stated.

Aaliyah Abrams, a force to be reckoned with in the 400 metres was a part of the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. While she did not medal, Abrams said she has much more to give and is excited to keep on going.

“It feels good to be recognised. It is a lot of hard work and mentally taxing competing in sporting events. It is wonderful to have people who enjoy watching you compete, also celebrate you,” Abrams said.

Minister of Social Cohesion, with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton along with Director of Sport, Christopher Jones and President of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K.A. Juman Yassin was also at the event. They commended the athletes for their contribution to Guyana and assured them that the recognition will not be a one-off event.

The Olympians will today receive their certificates at the 4th Aliann Pompey Invitational at the National Track and Field Centre.

Images: Keno George