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Athletics coach Lightbourne perseveres despite many challenges

The bible for track and field information, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) website, has Audrick Lightbourne listed in the 100 meters (m) with a best time of 10.59 seconds. Lightbourne’s personal best was achieved on August 3, in 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

As an Olympian in the summer of 1984, for The Bahamas, Lightbourne made it to the quarterfinals of the Los Angeles Games. He is quite the unassuming one though. Few of the 20 athletes he coaches, or their parents/guardians, are aware of his credentials. He functions as a self-employed athletics coach, and the Bahamian sports environment is challenging for independent mentors.

This is so despite the yeoman services they provide in preparing ambassadors to represent the country and enhance the national sports brand.

In the case of Lightbourne, his coaching resume includes products such as Grand Bahama’s finest ever female sprinter, Nivea Smith; current elite sprinter Shavez Hart; former junior sprint sensation Rashan Brown; Corey Sherrod; and Shaquiel Higgs.

The role is not an easy one, but the labor of love spirit is strong in Coach Lightbourne.

“You have to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to be understanding, despite your own personal situations, but you continue forward because of the desire to have your athletes improve, to have them get the most out of their talents. This is the great joy for me. Success comes at a high price and we all have to be prepared to pay the cost to get the most out of the athletes. To guide the athletes into working hard and improving to different levels is a joy for me,” said Coach Lightbourne.

He is one of the significant elements of the Grand Bahama track and field fraternity, which is so important in the overall national mix as the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) charts a new course under President Drumeco Archer. Backgrounds such as that of Lightbourne bode well for the expanded outreach program, Archer has touted.

There is a particular area of national development, coaches such as Lightbourne, Sandra Laing and the recent CARIFTA Head Coach Aliey Rolle, can contribute mightily to. Reference is to the proper transition of athletes from juniors to seniors.

In the past, so many top junior talents have not evolved to the elite senior stage. Rashan Brown is a case in point. Coach Lightbourne laments this particular situation.

“You know we have a time frame to work with the athletes, mostly during their junior years. So, we bring them to a point and then they go off. After that, the situations are out of our hands,” said Lightbourne.

Therein is the big challenge for the BAAA. The parent body of track and field in the country, just like the junior development coaches, such as Lightbourne, have little or nothing in most instances, to do with what happens with the athletes when they go to colleges and begin networking with different coaches who have objectives that don’t necessarily relate to The Bahamas’ sports brand, as a priority.

The coaches have much closer connections to parents and others who make decisions for the junior athletes. Perhaps networking specifically with Coach Lightbourne and others of his ilk, to be as influential as possible, and as practical with the way forward for junior athletes as possible, is the route the BAAA should take.

Coach Lightbourne and his peers throughout the country demonstrate perseverance and resilience. They ought to be brought more fundamentally in, into the overall BAAA development program.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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