Jesse Washington’s parents hit out at BOA after Olympic snub
Larry and Jacqui Washington, the parents of swimmer Jesse Washington, have expressed their disappointment with the Bermuda Olympic Association’s decision not to consider their son and Madelyn Moore for selection for the Olympic Games.
This week the BOA came under intense criticism from Ben Smith, the national swimming coach, over their decision not to allow Washington and Moore a chance to compete in Tokyo through a universality place, a type of wild card that enables athletes from smaller nations to compete at the Games.
Moore expressed her views at the decision in The Royal Gazette this week, and while Washington has declined to comment on the BOA decision, his parents were strong in their views that the two swimmers were treated unfairly.
They believe that the pair’s circumstances warrant special consideration.
“Obviously we’re very proud of Jesse and very happy with the path that he has taken in his life,” Larry Washington said. “He’s a very responsible young man, very dedicated to the sport and has never wavered from his dream and goal of going to the Olympics.
“What needs to be said, in 2019, probably when he had his last full competition, like any other swimmer who had aspirations of the Olympics, they were gearing up to peak in 2020 and Jesse is no different.
“He was in university, but in March 2020 when he was in Dallas at SMU [Southern Methodist University], we had to rush him out because Dallas had a huge outbreak [of Covid-19]. He has not been back since.
“He was very happy at SMU, they had a great swim programme and we believe that programme would have prepared him properly for 2020.
“We pulled him out of school and he has not been back, this Covid thing is still very fluid all over the world.
“Right now he’s here and doing some online courses and two internships.
“His education is still paramount, his swimming is still paramount.
“When we heard that the Tokyo Olympics was still going to go on for July 23, he quickly tried to get back in gear.
“However, with all the Covid restrictions, he couldn’t train. He usually trains with Ben [Smith] with a team at Warwick Academy.
“For months he basically trained by himself, going up to National Sports Centre whenever he could.
“Jesse has been saying that he found it very difficult lately to find his rhythm and get back his speed.”
Jacqui Washington is also surprised that more support and understanding has not been shown by the BOA to Washington’s plight.
“This is the International Olympic Committee that invited Jesse and Maddy and it was declined by the BOA,” she said.
“There is absolutely no way this should be happening, people should be disgusted with the way they are treating these swimmers.
“If you ask the people at the BOA what times Jesse and Maddy are doing at the moment they couldn’t tell you.
“Jesse and Maddy have swam to this standard throughout the years and to try to get to the Olympics with this final chance, as they are now in Puerto Rico, the BOA has decided it is going to be an A standard.
“Jesse has been to China for Junior Olympics and they were applauding him. What’s the difference now?
“What annoys me is these guys were invited by invitation and people need to remember they are trying to represent their country.”
Washington, now 22, has been swimming since the age of eight, his long-term goal being to compete at the Olympics.
“They have been very professional, Jesse didn’t want to comment while Maddy made her point, and she’s correct,” Jacqui Washington added.
“But behind the scenes we don’t know how they’re feeling. This is not the time for this to be happening for those two.”
Washington’s parents have seen the sacrifices he has made over the years in order to reach their dreams.
“The Friday nights not being allowed to go out with their friends because they have a meet the next day,” said his mother.
“Or training with Ben at six o’clock in the morning. The people on the BOA board need to understand what they go through. They’re not going to give up, Jesse and Maddy will aim to go to the next Olympics.”
His father added: “Jesse is a student of his art, he would watch them swim all day and knows everybody’s times, PBs and what they are supposed to do. When people go outside of that, he’s like ‘wow’.
“When Jesse was 14 of 15, I would go into his room and he would be on YouTube watching races and training sessions.”