Bridgewater has been quoted as saying that the “National Olympic Committee expects the very best from their athletes; at least from those who are qualified, because we are just taking qualification for the games. We expect them to put in their very best, improve their personal time, achieve their personal best, make it to the finals, and win medals. In other words, we have been there since 1996 and we think we have matured to the point, where it won’t be too much to expect somebody to mount the podium.”
However, he said he cannot now determine exactly how many medals the country may win. “That is something I can’t say now because we participate in the very best games in the entire world and we are not the ones to make any guesses as to what to expect on that. We just surely want to at least perform the very best on the day. Anything could happen on the day, we want them to perform the very best and at least set the goal of reaching their personal best, making it to the finals; and then we will see what happens in terms of mounting the podium after that.”
The Olympic Association President reminded that St. Kitts and Nevis is still immature in the Olympic Committee setting, “…and up to this point we are still only participating in one discipline so to speak – that’s track and field, but don’t forget, while he haven’t yet gained an Olympic medal, we have had the world champion Kim Collins, we were placed at a junior level at the Central America and Caribbean games, at Pan American Games. We have a 4 x 100 meters relay team which has gotten bronze medal at the world games as well. So we are expecting great things from these individuals and these teams.”
Looking ahead, to the prospects for medals, Bridgewater said, “Once Kim Collins is at these games, you could never rule him out and he’s the most recognized face we have. Members of the 4 x 100 meters relay team also could perform on the big stage. So, those are the names, which come readily to mind – Kim Collins and all the other members who make up that 4 x 100 meters relay team.”
Athletes from St, Kitts and Nevis, who have not yet qualified, still have a short window of opportunity, especially with the OECS Games scheduled for this Sunday, 10th June, at the Silver Jubilee Stadium. However, at this time the country is looking at approximately 12 persons, but it could go anywhere to 16, or maybe a range of 8, to 12 persons. That’s what we are looking at, said the president. This will be the fifth Olympic Games for St. Kitts and Nevis, having started its journey in 1996 in Atlanta, USA.
“Many of our team members train at home in Saint Kitts and Nevis. And quite a number of them as well go to universities in the United States and as a result of that they participate in NCWA Championships. Beyond that our National Olympic Committee works with them to find the competitions to show their skills and to keep them alive just before these games. The vast majority still trains at home and then the others train as they follow their educational pursuits at the universities whether in the States or other places, primarily in the United States of America. And we get quite a lot of assistance. In fact the major assistants we get from the Olympic Solidarity to provide the funding and the support for these athletes to train – whether it is at home or overseas.”
In terms of adapting to the weather and other conditions of London, Bridgewater is not expecting too much of a difficulty. “There is always a challenge as we move from place to place to take part in events. But even though most people think we have an excellent weather (in St. Kitts), and we do have excellent weather, but it sometimes gets too hot for training as well. So, even at home where you think it is ideal, we worry about the heat sometimes. And the nature of competition internationally means that you have to come up against different seasons, different zones, and different environments and even when you have the best environment where the weather is consonant. We have other challenges with food, transportation, accommodations, but it is always a challenge for the athlete and that is why when people win and make it to the podium, we give them such credit, we acknowledge them so much because we know they have to face so many odds.”
Bridgewater also gave his predictions about which countries may feature in the top five, at the Olympics. “There is narrowing of the gap in the level of the playing field but you would still have countries there of course: you have the United States, you have England. Brazil has been making a big showing. We have Brazil move forward, they moved from being a host of Central American and Caribbean Games at the regional level, and then they moved to the Pan American level, now they are hosting the Olympic Games in 2016. It tells me also that you could see the improvement in terms of the athletic performances. I expect them to be of course reckoned as well. And then, of course, the sprint capital of the world is Jamaica, so I expect them to put in a good performance. And the rest of the smaller countries draw their motivation from countries like Jamaica. Jamaica is in the region, the region, which I am from, the Caribbean and the American, so we draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from them. And the Olympic Games always tend to provide some surprises. You could look forward to some surprises even coming from Saint Kitts and Nevis.”
Participation in the Olympics for St. Kitts and Nevis is important in many ways expressed Bridgewater. “…the most recognized face of Saint Kitts and Nevis is Kim Collins. That says a lot. That says a lot for the tourist promotion. That says a lot for economic development. The face of Kim Collins was made visible by the Olympic Games, World Games and Pan American Games. It does a lot to attract people to the country. When they get to know him and when they find out, which country he is from, people come to visit it, which does something to the tourism industry. When you have at least performed on this level internationally it does a lot for the individual psyche of not just athletes but the individual members of every single community in the country.”
“Everybody in Saint Kitts and Nevis wants to be an athlete of some sort. Of course, they want to be in the sprints, but not just in sprints, they are trying other disciplines as well, other disciplines that are the part of Olympic program. So, clearly when you hear about a country of the size of 50,000 people and you could go down the streets in the capital of Athens and see a life-size picture of our athlete, in this case it was Kim Collins, it tells you what is happening in terms of notoriety of our country. What we also have is the Olympic movement and what it exposes. It’s not just focusing on sports, it’s focusing on the environment, it focuses on the individual psyche, individual personal development of young people. So, all of that together makes a difference in the country,” stated Bridgewater.
He said the Olympic movement in his country, for example, is the premier, most outstanding agency in terms of providing assistance and support and providing training and development for all levels of sport, Olympic and non-Olympic sports as well as individual officials. And once you are involved in the administration and management of sports, you automatically become involved in the administration and the management of life, the management of businesses, and the management of schools. It’s personal, community and national development…a process aided by the national Olympic committee and aided by the Olympic Games.
Bridgewater was in Moscow earlier in April (13th -15th), for a meeting of the Association of the National Olympic Committees, ANOC, and spoke to reporters there about his country’s involvement in the Olympics.