Meet your 2016 Olympians
The Bermuda Olympic Association has named an eight-strong squad for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The squad, announced last night at a reception at Gosling's Wine Cellar, includes rower Shelley Pearson, sailors Cecilia Wollmann and Cameron Pimental, triathlete Flora Duffy, sprinter and long jumper Tre Houston and Tyrone Smith and swimmers Julian Fletcher and Rebecca Heyliger.
Still aiming to reach the qualifying standard in their respective sports are swimmer Roy-Allan Burch, and track and field pair Shaquille Dill (800 metres) and Lamont Marshall (3,000 metres steeplechase).
Burch will be in a Bermuda squad going to the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships in Bahamas at the end of the month as he hopes to finally reach the qualifying B standard in the 50 metres freestyle.
It has a been a difficult year for Burch after coming off career-threatening injuries to his knees in March, 2015.
When he failed to reach the standard at the recent National Championships, Burch thought his Olympic dream was over.
“I was under the impression that Bermuda Nationals was my last opportunity to make the Games so I felt I had to reach a level of acceptance and be prepared to move on,” he said at the time.
“I had already made the decision to compete at the Caribbean Championships next month, unaware that it was a qualifying opportunity. Although the pain in my knees can drive me nuts and make me uncomfortable I can put up with it for a little longer to go to Rio.
“Being .06 off the time it only makes sense to go for it. The last few weeks my body has been getting better and another month to heal will only help. The Road to Rio is still on.”
At the reception, attended by three of the team members — Fletcher, Heyliger and Cameron Pimental — Michael Dunkley, the Premier, praised the athletes for reaching the qualifying standard for the major sporting event. “Your journey has just started,” he said. “I'll be watching as much as I can. I know it is going to be tough down there in Rio, very tough competition, but I have every confidence all the athletes will do their personal best.
“Most important is that we continue to fly that flag. Any Bermudian who has watched the opening ceremony and seen our team come out of the tunnel, wearing the Bermuda shorts and flying the flag, it hits you in the heart.
“The epitome of the Olympics is bringing people together. I know we'll see some medals along the way. No pressure.”
The BOA also acknowledged yesterday that the team could include some late qualifiers, such as Dill, Marshall and Burch.
“There is a possibility that additional athletes may qualify to represent Bermuda in athletics and swimming, in which case a separate announcement regarding their ratification by the BOA to join Team Bermuda will be issued,” Judy Simons, the BOA president, said.
The athletes selected will be accompanied by their coaches, managers and led by Brenda Dale, the Chef de Mission, and other BOA officials.
Sylvan Richards, the Sports Minister who was also at the reception, will also be at the Games.
“The BOA congratulates the members of Team Bermuda on their significant successes in qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in their respective disciplines,” Simons said. “We are very proud of our athletes and we wish them the very best in competition in Rio.”
Duffy, one of the world's top triathletes, is probably the Island's best hopes of winning a medal in Rio, along with Smith and Pearson who finished third in the B final at a World Cup event in Poland over the weekend, the last competition before the Games in August.
Duffy placed second in a World Triathlon race in Leeds, England two weeks ago.
Bermuda squad: Shelley Pearson (rowing); Cecilia Wollmann (sailing); Cameron Pimental (sailing); Flora Duffy (triathlon); Tyrone Smith (long jump); Tre Houston (track); Julian Fletcher (swimming); Rebecca Heyliger (swimming).