Why donít Belize's Track Athletes Do Better In Regional Games

Belize's best young athletes recently returned from the 2013 Central American Games in Costa Rica. They brought home 4 medals: 1 gold in the 400 meter hurdles, 1 silver in the heptathlon, and a bronze in triple jump and female softball. 3 of those 4 medals were in the track and field events, and those 3 athletes who were able to medal for team Belize were all Belizean Americans, who train in facilities outside of their home country.

And one sports official who has a long tenure of service has chosen to address the public to put this recent performance into much needed context. Deon Sutherland, who is currently serving as representative for the National Secondary School Sports Association - the NSSSA - has sent a letter to all the media houses to point out that Athletics in Belize is on life-support.

Though he has a vested interest in a leadership dispute in the Belize Amateur Athletic Association, Sutherland also has a valid perspective because he's one of the figures who is out in the field communicating directly with young athletes. Here's what he told us about the current state of Athletics in Belize:

Deon Sutherland - Belizean Sports Enthusiast
"You know, over the past months, we have had a serious decline in athletics in Belize, and that stems from a number of things. As you can recall, last year we had a problem with the past executive. In June, that executive was dissolved and a group of past president was task to head a new B.A, and they were given certain functions to do. Since then, basically we have not heard anything in terms of athletics. We recently sent athletes to the Central American Games; we got a few medals but nothing in comparison to what we usually do, Some of our standard athletes were not able to showcase their skills and abilities. I believe in terms of the facility, you know that we have the track at the Marion Jones which is not being used, and again for a number of reasons, the Ministry has their own concerns with that. But we believe if we truly develop the potential in our athletes in all aspects, I believe we need to do more; not only with our mouths but we need to put actions and money where our mouths are."

Daniel Ortiz
"So at this time, do you believe that the policy from Ministry of Sports is a correct one? The inner track is already prepared, and they're trying to finish the facility but they have closed it off from the public, and as a result of that we're losing a generation of Athletes because we don't have anywhere to practice."

Deon Sutherland
"Well, technically you can't just blame the ministry because the Association itself doesn't have any program, any structure. The Ministry is putting something in place for the entire country of Belize, and they're doing it strategically. I think you know that there's a task force set up to look at sports on a whole through the Ministry. So in terms of the facility, yes, we could say, maybe the ministry can look at ways and means of facilitating athletes to use the facility. But in terms of the structured programs, in terms of having something for the athletes themselves, I don't think you could rely on the ministry for that, you'd have to look for the Association. At this point, the association has not been doing much in terms of working towards creating anything for the athletes."

Channel 7