Barbados set for battle in Doha
Barbados will be taking five of its best swimmers to compete at the upcoming short course FINA World Swimming Championship being held in Doha, Qatar, starting next week, and head coach Abdul Sharif believes the competition will provide the team with valuable experience.
The five member team includes Alex Sobers, Mathew Courtis, Zabrina Holder, Deandre Small and Lani Cabrera who are expected to depart the island on Sunday for the Championship scheduled to run from December 3-7.
Sharif told Barbados TODAY that since the halcyon days of Nicholas Neckles, Shawn Clarke and company now over, the country was now in a transition as it moved towards once again re-establishing its dominance.
“We must appreciate that our swimming right now is in a transition phase and we do not have any world class rank athletes at the moment in swimming,” Sharif explained.
“We have very good juniors and upcoming swimmers but no world class athletes at the moment which is somewhat unfortunate because it means that we did not plan as well as we needed and I am not saying that in any derogatory way.”
He added: “Having said that, one would appreciate that our kids are going for experience and Lani Cabrera is probably the most experienced among the swimmers and she is probably the one that should do well among the bunch but her outing at CAC Games was not has she would have expected and therefore having not final-ed at CAC she would be pushed a little bit at this level has well.”
Sharif explained that Sobers was not quite up to world standards has yet but was on par with his age group while Small had been doing reasonably well since overcoming a bad shoulder injury a few years ago.
Holder is currently recovering from a bout of chikungunya and though not at her best, is still expected to turn in a good showing.
Two of Barbados top local swimmers in Christian Selby and Hanna Gill are noticeably missing from the team and Sharif said they were unavailable due to their studies. The two are currently based in Tennessee and were not allowed the time away from school to participate in the championship.
“That’s one of the problems we have when we have kids studying in the States or Europe the meets do not line up because the Americans are doing their own thing so they could not get the time away,” Sharif said.
“But academics will always come first because there is a life after academics so they had to forego that [championship] but they will be representing Barbados at CARIFTA next year so all is not lost.”
He added: “If they had gone to this championship they would definitely be among the cream of the crop that we would be carrying. But we can only hope that they would do personal-best performances and they would benefit and gain from their performances so it would stand them in good stead in the future.
“We are expected to do reasonably well bearing our limitation and our challenges.”
Barbados did not have any finalists at the FINA World Championship last year even though a few national records were broken.