Good show . . . but not what our Olympians wanted
Bermuda’s Olympians could have done better . . . much better.
But before the letter writers put pen to paper, they might want to talk to the athletes themselves.
They every right to be proud and should be commended for 100 percent effort.
However, most will be slightly disappointed because, as chef de mission Stan Douglas pointed out, circumstances contrived to thwart everything they had hoped and trained for.
In the past, we’ve heard one excuse after another when Bermudians fail overseas.
But on this occasion there was no need for excuses.
In some cases there were understandable reasons why they didn’t perform to their optimum.
Flora Duffy slipped off her bike in treacherous conditions and to compound that setback she suffered a puncture. Any chance she may have had to break into the top ten, even top five, and just maybe a place on the podium, flew out of the window. It was a sad ending to a year in which she has won a World Cup event and established herself one the leading professional triathletes.
Fellow triathlete Tyer Butterfield might have not been as unfortunate but the very fact he clocked the fastest bike ride of all those in the field underlined his exceptional ability.
In his case, the pack of cyclists with whom he was riding showed no interest or didn’t have the legs to chase down the leaders, all of them, including Butterfield, having been left behind on the swim.
Those who understand the sport will be aware cyclists need to work together in order to maintain high speed.
It was only Butterfield who was prepared to work and ultimately he had no option but to go it alone, putting his foot on the pedal harder than anyone else. But that extra effort dashed any hopes of recording a fast 10K in which he may have made up a lot of ground.
He was left to reflect on what might have been had he been able to close in on the leaders before the end of the 43 kilometre ride.
Having said that the eventual winner, Jonathan Brownlee, ran the 10K in 29 minutes which is much faster than many of the international runners who have run Bermuda’s 10K. And Brownlee had already swam 1500 metres and ridden the 43K!
Neverless, Tyler is much better than reflected by his performance. He’s shown that time after time.
But there were other hard luck stories.
Jill Terceira missed by a single point in her bid to qualify for the next stage of the showjumping competition. She was certainly capable.
Long jumper Arantxa King, of whom little was expected given her results this season, lost her chance to qualify for the final only on countback. Her best jump was the same as the girl who did qualify. King was eliminated even though her effort equalled that of her rival. An earlier jump was the deciding factor.
Swimmer Roy-Allan was elated with a national record in the 50 metres freestyle. He won his heat comfortably but admitted he may have gone faster had he been pushed by another competitor.
That’s what happens in the Olympics. The smaller countries are grouped together in the early heats on the premise that they’re unlikely won’t get into the semi-finals anyway. Burch could have proved them wrong.
In a team of eight, it was incredible that that five suffered such misfortune.
Tyrone Smith had no reason to be unhappy. But he was.
He reached the final of the long jump putting himself in the company of the world’s top 12 competitors. But had he slightly exceeded his personal best he could have come close to earning medal.
He admitted he was bitterly disappointed he didn’t perform to his capability.
Despite placing 19th, sailors Jesse and Zander Kirkland learned they can compete with the best on any given day. That was proved by a third-place finish during the Weymouth regatta.
Will Bermuda ever again win an Olympic medal?
We’ve had so many close calls since boxer Clarence Hill took the bronze in Montreal in 1976. Star sailors Peter Bromby and Lee White immediately come to mind with their fourth place finish in Sydney, just one spot out of what would have been a deserved medal.
But it remains highly unlikely that a Bermudian will step onto an Olympic podium, particularly as they continue to compete against those whose budget is so much larger.
Since the introduction of the lottery, Britain has started pumping cash into sport to the extent that their athletes have been afforded almost unlimited funds.
And it’s shown in their results.
Home advantage may have impacted on their Games performances, but their third-place finish in the medal table wasn’t entirely unexpected, given their resources and facilities.
Every one of Bermuda’s Olympians live and train abroad, knowing they would never had got to London otherwise.
But these days money buys success, as seen in every sport, and with the limited funds available to our elite athletes they’ll always be facing an uphill battle.
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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