Famous may miss event — no coach funding
Some $3,315 needs to be raised by this weekend so that coach Rohaan Simons can accompany high jumper Sakari Famous to the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, next month.
Famous is having her expenses covered by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, but the Bermuda National Athletic Association are hard-pressed to find money for Simons’s travel and accommodation for the Games, which run from July 10 to 15.
That leaves Famous uncertain if she will travel as she does not want to do so without the support of her coach. The expenses for Simons includes $2,400 for the airline ticket and $600 for hotel accommodation.
“We’re in a very unfortunate situation as the Bermuda Permit Meet didn’t go as well as expected from a financial point,” explained Donna Raynor, the BNAA president. “We’re not in a good state at all, we’re still waiting for funds to come in from the sponsors of the Permit Meet and still have athletes that we have to pay.
“Since last week what we’ve been doing is checking with a few places to get some assistance but they all said no. We have not informed the IAAF yet that we’re not sending our athlete, we’re still hoping a miracle happens. The closing date for entries is the 25th so we have to make a decision by next Monday.”
Famous, Bermuda’s top female high jumper, has been cleared to compete at the Games although she did not reach the qualifying standard of 1.82 metres. Her personal best leap is 1.80, but the organisers have seen enough in her performances to grant her a place.
“They sent me an e-mail last week advising me that they had approved Sakari,” Raynor said. “They probably looked at her performances at other championships. The qualifying standard is 1.82 but she has only jumped 1.79 this year.”
Famous was looking forward to a busy summer, having qualified for the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, from July 20 to August 3, and will then start her college career at the University of Georgia.
“I understand her disappointment but it’s not from us not trying,” Raynor stressed. “We also have CAC and NACAC [the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships] coming up and we don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no funds, from a financial standpoint we’re not in a good state at all.”
Famous, who won Bermuda’s only medal, a bronze, at the Carifta Games in the Bahamas in April, was meant to have competed in the Bermuda Permit Meet last month but withdraw because of injury. Having to pay for the visiting athletes is putting a strain on the BNAA’s finances, leaving them to wonder if they will be able to host the meet for a fourth time next year.
“That’s what happens when you put on these events and people don’t come out to support it,” Raynor said.
“Our goal was to raise enough money to be able to send the athletes to the different events. In the first year the stadium was full, but in the last two years not, it has put us in the hole. We’ve had some top athletes come down.”
Sabrina Famous, Sakari’s mother, is hoping funds can be found to enable Simons to make the trip with her. “Sakari hasn’t qualified but every country is allowed to send a non-qualified athlete,” Sabrina said.
“Sakari has qualified for the CAC Games, but it’s really close to the time that she is leaving for school and it’s not a world meet like this one. She’s really interested in going to her first world meet, to know what it’s like and to have that experience.
“Although the IAAF is taking care of Sakari’s funding they won’t do that for her coach. The country is responsible for sending the coach. The BNAA notified us this morning that they were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure funds for the coach.
“It’s really a big deal because NCAA athletes can’t go around asking for sponsorship for themselves. BNAA have exhausted their avenues for funding and are unable to come up with the cost of Rohaan’s expenses.
“They said we have until the 25th because they want to book Sakari’s ticket. She really would not want to go to her first world meet on her own, especially because she feels like she’s going in as the underdog.
“I asked her why not just brave up and do it, but she started thinking about the technical stuff, collecting passes and going to technical meetings and she doesn’t know how that’s done. I don’t think going on her own is an option.
“The meet starts on July 10, just 2½ weeks away, and it would be nice if she could focus her energy on preparing as opposed to wondering if she will go or not.
“For the CAC, the Bermuda Olympic Association covers the cost of that and it doesn’t require Bermuda National Athletic Association funding.”