It is no secret that Barbados does not field many athletes. Regardless, there are a number of quality athletes from the small Caribbean island. Ryan Brathwaite is a track and field athlete from this island in the sun looking forward to the summer games in the 2012 London Olympics. He is a young hurdler who impressively won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.14 seconds at the world championships in Berlin, Germany in a brilliant photo finish. He struck the first hurdle but clearly this wasn’t enough of a hindrance to prevent him from continuing down a track that would soon earn him the right to claim ownership of the first medal ever to be won for Barbados at the World Championships.
Brathwaite was born in the parish of St. Andrew in Barbados and from an early age had always possessed a passion for sprinting. Many can remember him being sent on errands and as opposed to walking, he would sprint his way all over the place. Clearly this athleticism was to follow him throughout his life as he continues to run, except now, he does it competitively.
Seeming to come out of nowhere, Ryan’s first run occurred on the world stage in 2005 at the 2005 World Youth Championships in Athletics. There, he ran home with a silver medal in the 110 meter hurdles. The following year in 2006, he won the CAC Junior Championships. Further, in 2007, he competed as a senior athlete at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics and reached the sprint hurdles semi-finals. In that same year, he placed fourth at the 2007 Pan American Games.
In 2008, he set a national record at the Central American and Caribbean Championships, winning his heat in 13.49 seconds. Soon, he stepped up that previous time with a time of 13.38 at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Ryan, the Star
In 2009, Ryan broke a Championship Record at the 2009 CAC Championships. This was the year that Barbados would see the true excellence of Ryan Brathwaite shine through as he competed to set a new record of 13.18 in the semi-finals and 13.14 in the finals. On approaching the finishing line, US David Payne and Terrence Trammell were virtually at the finishing line with Ryan but Ryan was able to push enough to get the nod ahead of the Americans.
On September 17, 2009, the Government of Barbados bestowed upon Ryan the accolade of ambassadorship in recognition of his achievements. He also formally received the title Ambassador His Excellency Ryan Brathwaite along with other gifts that were presented to him at the ceremony.
Ryan’s Countdown to London 2012 Is On!
Recently, the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) president Steve Stoute said the island is likely to field its smallest team ever for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Until that time only former World 110 metres hurdles champion Ryan Brathwaite, boxer Anderson Emmanuel and a few other athletes are in training programmes to help them increase their chances of qualifying.
Ryan Brathwaite has shown Barbados and the world that one can rise from humble upbringings and hurdle their way to greater things in life. His focus on believing in himself has truly paid off as his excellence and determination has certainly kick started a positive culture among the very young people in his neighbourhood. Forever inscribed in the hearts and minds of his neighbours and the rest of Barbados is this young man whose achievements we will always be reminded of especially when we pass through his neighbourhood and can’t help but pay attention to the mural in his honour.
By Norvan Martin