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Developing Weightlifting in Barbados

We take a deeper look into the weightlifting situation in Barbados, one of the 25 islands and countries in the Caribbean.

The IWF had the chance to speak with Andrew Callender, president of the Weightlifting Federation of Barbados, giving us insights into the current development of the sport and the needs of young and future generations.

In a wide picture, we can all expect the extra needs that come along with any kind of sports development within the Caribbean islands, but what we can’t nearly imagine are the extraordinary difficulties and efforts that athletes, clubs and federations have to go through in order to be able to succeed on the big screen.

On top of everything, we have to add the overall effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic which stopped so many projects such as the improvement of Caribbean Weightlifting, that aims to unite the Caribbean islands in the endeavor of the development of the sport.

The necessary equipment and funding being delayed or pending to arrive are a result of a chain of problems: delays from China, the Pandemic or the eruption of the volcano in St. Vincent affecting Barbados, which are issues that resemble more of a fiction movie than the reality to which we are already accustomed.

Despite these unstable conditions, the passion and the dedication from the different athletes, coaches and federation members for the sport keeps them motivated to continue working towards their goals of evolving weightlifting within their communities.

“We are grateful for the support received from the Barbados Olympic Association as well as from the International Weightlifting Federation, but even with it we still struggle facing the continued problems and needs for our sport in Barbados” Andrew Callender, President of Weightlifting Federation, says.

The main issue comes towards international competitions and qualifiers for the Olympics, where the cost of travelling increases substantially and, as a result, athletes miss out on opportunities to compete at. This is something that Barbados is trying to change in the near future.

“We are working on a qualifier to be held next year in Barbados for the Commonwealth Games, so that all of the Caribbean islands have a chance to compete at and qualify their athletes in this event” Callender reaffirms.

During the conversation, we were able to review the needs when it comes to funding but also with the facilities and equipment required to continue developing weightlifting in Barbados. Different factors such as working with two currencies, USD and local, makes it even more complicated when dealing with international help and funding, losing a big percentage of it due to bank transactions.

“We try to approach our sponsors from a different perspective, so that they can help in a variety of ways, not just economically but also directly through traveling fees or sport material, in a more tangible way, so that we can save money to buy things we can neither obtain nor produce ourselves” Callender states. He also tells us how the weightlifting community enjoys building equipment themselves on the weekends, and even states that “our equipment is even stronger and tougher than the one you can buy at shops because we build it counting on our particular weather conditions”

The lack of proper and owned training facilities, the weather conditions or the small impact of the sport in the community are other issues that clearly make it challenging for the sport to continue growing.

Solving these needs are current tasks to be tackled by the Weightlifting Federation in Barbados in cooperation with international sport institutions and with the main goal of successfully developing and improving weightlifting in the Caribbean, but as Callender says “passion, vocation and teamwork make it all possible”.