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Athletes praised for ‘punching above weight’

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Sylvan Richards has praised Bermuda's Olympic athletes for “punching above their weight” during his trip to Rio de Janeiro.

The Minister of Social Development and Sport flew into Brazil last Friday to represent the island at the global sporting extravaganza and support Bermuda's eight-strong squad.

“I've seen a common thread of extreme passion, discipline and focus in the athletes I've spoken with, and I admire them for it,” Mr Richards said in a phone conversation from inside the Olympic Village.

As well as attending as many events as possible, the MP has been meeting his counterparts from other countries and plans on visiting the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue before returning to Bermuda on Sunday.

However, he missed seeing the opening ceremony live due to “logistical issues”, and had to settle for seeing it on a big screen.

“I've been waving the Bermuda flag at the venues, and people have been coming up and asking to take pictures with myself and the flag,” he added.

Mr Richards said that, in his capacity as sports minister, he would be championing increased Government support to nurture national sporting champions of today and tomorrow. The One Bermuda Alliance Government has cut funding for sports in several Budgets since taking charge — something Mr Richards deemed an unfortunate inevitability given the island's precarious financial situation.

“I can't deny that the sporting community has taken a hit, but as our economy strengthens and we pull ourselves out of the recession, we can find money to do more. I believe that in the next few months we will see the Government stepping up to the plate.”

And he praised the resilience of Bermuda's sporting stars during the lean times.

“Bermuda is a very small island with a very small population, and I believe that the athletes we have are definitely punching above their weight,” he said. “We need to do more to support our elite athletes, who are ambassadors for their country. If Flora Duffy medals for Bermuda in the triathlon, she's going to put Bermuda on the map.”

Flying the flag: Sylvan Richards with sprinter Tre Houston
On track: Sylvan Richards with track and field star Tyrone Smith
Going swimmingly: Sylvan Richards with swimmer Rebecca Heyliger
Sylvan Richards with Cameron Pimentel

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Published August 12, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm)

Athletes praised for ‘punching above weight’

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