The Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) this week hosted a High-Performance Workshop at the Barbados Beach Club for local athletes heading to this year’s Pan American Games in Toronto, and Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa. The goal of the workshop was to help prepare the athletes mentally for the rigors of these games.
The lead facilitators, sports physician and Chief Medical Officer of the Pan Am Games, Dr Julia Alleyne and sports psychologist, Dr Doug Misener of Canada brought a wealth of international experience in sports medicine and performance psychology to the interactive two-day workshop. They sought to equip local athletes with the techniques required to build their mental resilience and wellbeing both in the lead-up and throughout the Games.
BOA General Manager Glyne Clarke said the BOA recognised that while local athletes were being prepared well physically for high-level competitions, they, however, lacked in their mental preparation. “We’re proud to be able to offer this opportunity for the first time to our athletes. This workshop is our first step in creating a continuous program to support mentally and prepare our athletes for multi-sport games – now, and into the future,” he said.
Athletes were counseled on how to manage anxiety and emotions, deal with pressure and the media, set performance goals and the importance of sleep and nutrition. They also received coaching on relaxation and breathing techniques. A nutritionist and two team doctors were also on hand to give advice on managing injuries and proper nutrition.
Facilitator Dr Julia Alleyne said she was pleased with the level of sophistication of the Barbadian athletes “they are very knowledgeable, and it’s made the workshop very interactive”, she said. “They’ve been so honest and really put in the effort to make this workshop a success.”
Barbados’ 400m hurdles Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Andrea Blackett, was also a special guest presenter. She spoke to the athletes about positive mental health and visualisation. “Becoming an elite athlete first begins with a passion and intense desire to be the best you can be. This decision has to be made by you and no one can influence you or convince you to be great. This has to be something you want. And you have to want it more than you want anything else in life,” she said.
Nadia Cummins, 400m track, and field athlete is attending her first Pan Am Games. She said, “I’m happy to have the chance to work on my mental preparation, and to have everyone together to create a positive team energy.”
Ramon Gittens, 100m and 200m track and field athlete and Barbadian Olympian, echoed these sentiments. “Being based overseas, I have access to workshops like these but I’m very happy to see these kinds of opportunities now becoming available locally to Barbadian athletes,” he said.
The highlight of the second day was a surprise special guest performance by soca legend Biggie Irie and singer Imani. Their song ‘Get Over’ was used to inspire the athletes and to highlight the relationship between music and motivation. Biggie was delighted to have the chance to meet the workshop participants. “It’s a pleasure to come and perform this song for our athletes. Life’s all about overcoming challenges and staying positive, and if the lyrics of our song can help inspire them to do their best, it’s a great thing to me”, he said.
A total of 40 athletes will represent Barbados at upcoming Games – 32 at Pan Am and eight at the Youth Commonwealth Games. Ten sports will be represented at the Pan Am Games including athletics, swimming, boxing, golf, badminton, triathlon, tennis, equestrian (jumping), shooting, weightlifting; and six sports will be represented at the Youth Commonwealth Games – athletics, swimming, archery, tennis, boxing, and weightlifting.