January 30, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

Games squad could be largest ever

By James [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

A total of 25 athletes have made the grade for the Commonwealth Games so far, the Bermuda Olympic Association has revealed.

John Hoskins president of the Bermuda Olympic Association, which ratified the qualifying times for the 25 athletes at its meeting last week, said it was already shaping up to be one of the largest Bermuda teams to compete in the games.

Semi-pro cyclist Tyler Butterfield, 15-year-old junior long jump champion Arantxa King and squash world number 78 Nick Kyme are among the leading athletes who will be on the plane to Melbourne next March.

The other qualifiers will compete in athletics, swimming, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon, squash and target shooting.

The rest of the Commonwealth wannabes face a race against time to make it to Australia.

The BOA has set a January 29 deadline — leaving them with just over seven weeks to hit their targets.

Triathlete Flora Duffy, who made the qualifying time at an event in the U.K, could also be added to the list. Her qualification is under review amid concerns that the length of the course was not correct.

Fellow triathlete Evan Naude, who booked his ticket at the World Age Group Championships in Hawaii, said she was a talented athlete and he hoped she would be on the team.

Naude, who was born in South Africa, said he hoped to do Bermuda proud.

He said: “I know we are going to be up against the Aussies, the Kiwis, the Brits and the Canadians - some of the best triathletes in the world, so realistically I'm not looking for a podium place or anything like that.

“But I’d still like to do a respectable time and make the country proud. I had a look at the results from last year and I don’t think we need to be too intimidated.”

Graham Smith became the latest to qualify for the swim team, making the time for the 200m individual medley at a college event for Dalhousie University in Canada last week.

And Dolphins swim coach Kathy Cowen, who also works with the national swimmers, said she hoped more would make it.

Kiera Aitken, who did so well in the Olympics, Ronald Cowen and Michael O’Connor are already in training after meeting the standard at a Caribbean meet in the summer.

Kiera and Graham Smith are training with Dalhousie while Cowen and O’Connor both compete for amateur U.S. swim team FAST, based in Texas.

Mrs. Cowen said all four had realistic hopes of making the finals in their respective events.

“That's a realistic goal. Having said that Kiera is swimming very, very well at the moment, so…

“I would think they will all at least make the semi-finals.”

A Bermuda time-trial later this month at the Saltus pool will offer another chance to qualify for rest of the island's top swimmers.

Ashley Aitken, Trevor Johnson, Darren Woods and Roy Allan Burch are all hoping to make the team.

On the gymnastics front, the core of the multi-medal winning Island Games team will be heading for Melbourne.

Kalena Astwood and Casey Lopes were the final two to make the qualifying standard after the Gymnastics Association brought in a judge from the U.K. for a competition last week.

12-year-old Kaisey Griffith, who won six golds at the Island Games, just scraped into the team - on age grounds.

Competitors must be 14 in the year of the competition to be eligible. The talented BHS youngster turns 14 on December 26, 2006 - six days before the cut off point.

Coach Tina Williams said all the girls were excited about the prospect of competing in Melbourne and were training 18 hours a week at the Baselands gym in St Davids to perfect their routines.

She said new rules and requirements for the sport, which come into play from January, made it even more hard work for the young athletes.

“They’re just looking to get personal bests and have some success with the routines that are planned out for them.”[[In-content Ad]]


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