Sports have always played a major role in the lives of the Guyanese people, and over the years, the country has demonstrated that it can produce outstanding sports men and women. From the earliest colonial times, all have indulged in some form of competitive, physical activity.
Cricket, established by the British, has been played by every ethnic and social group in Guyana, and in many ways it has transcended those classifications. Over the years, no fewer than six Guyanese captains have led the West Indies cricket team, the most notable of which being Clive Lloyd. Arguably, one of the world’s greatest cricketing victories in the first two World Cup Series
But sport is so much more than cricket, and the Guyanese have a taste for all forms. From Rugby to Horse-racing, Swimming to Squash, Boxing to Badminton, and Football to Fung fu. Guyanese like their sports and they come out in great numbers to support their players. This enthusiasm has been rewarded over the years with international class athletes. In 1980, Michael Anthony Parris won a bronze at the Olympic Games; Andrew “Sixhead” Lewis captured the nation’s first ever boxing World Title and was soon followed by Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite and “Vicious” Vivian Harris More recently, Gwendolyn O’Neil also won a World Title.
As the nation grows, a genuine effort is being made to secure facilities that will assist the development of sport in Guyana .The Cliff Anderson Sports Hall plays host to Basketball, Volleyball and Table tennis competitions at international standard. Table tennis training is accomplished under the watchful eye of Chinese coach, Zhou Ping. The Colgrain and Castellani swimming pools are fully utilized allowing Guyana’s young swimmers to acquire the skills needed to compete on the international stage. The Sports Programme being implemented by the National Sports Associations and Federations, the Guyana Olympic Association and the National Sports Commission, are continuing to show progress.
A brand new stadium has been built to host the Super 8 matches of the 2007 World Cup Cricket Series. Supported by the government of India, at a cost of US$ 25 million, the new venue will certainly take Guyanese sport to another level. The whole nation is preparing itself for the cricketing world for the duration of the tournament league. Local hotels and resorts, the tourism industry, media and cricket fans are gearing up to make the most of the World Cup.
BOXING: Guyana has had its share of title-holders over the few years and continues to excel in this sport. “Vicious” Vivian Harris and Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite, both former world title holders, are looking to regain their supremacy along with Gwendolyn O’Neal who will be fighting Laila Ali to reclaim her spot on the world stage. Two up-and-coming boxers of which to take note are Pamela London and Gary Sinclair.
FOOTBALL: There is heavy investment in football with some sixteen million dollars having been provided in the development of 32 clubs in order to upgrade their systems and to improve facilities. Local football is one of the most popular sports and spectators are willing to travel great distances to support their teams. One of the more successful franchises (established by Kashif and Shanghai) attracts growing sponsorship and large crowds to its tournaments.
RUGBY: Over the past few years, spectacular successes have been recorded in the highly in the Caribbean for the past three years. Kit Nascimento, following up on the his leadership of Guyana rugby, has gone on to be elected to the presidency of the regional body.
TABLE TENNIS: Under the guidance of a Chinese coach for the past two years, table tennis in Guyana has shown a marked improvement. It has become one of the most popular sports for youngsters who attend practice sessions at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. Guyana has performed well in competitions throughout the Caribbean, especially at junior level.
BADMINTON AND SQUASH: Guyana has made great steps in both of these sports. Its players have been invited to participate in the Surinamese Badminton Championships and, in squash, Guyana is the Caribbean Junior Champions.
CYCLING: Hassan Mohamed has, almost single-handedly, encouraged and promoted the sport of cycling in Guyana. While there is great deal of interest in the sport among both younger and older riders, it has been the dedication and commitment of Mohamed and the National Sports Commission that sees continuing tournaments being held across the country.
MOTOR RACING: Motor racing is one of the most popular spectator sports in Guyana recording mammoth crowds at both local and international meetings. Considered to be the finest in the Caribbean, the South Dakota Motor Racing Circuit can trace its origins back to 1953. It was at this time that a group of motorcyclists staged their first meet at the Number Sixty-three Beach. From this humble event emerged the British Guiana Motor Racing Club and with it some of the sport’s leading exponents. Names such as Pat Holder, Kit Nasimento, Ashim Hack and Eric Vieira—the club’s first president who went on to serve for twenty years are etched into Guyana’s motor racing history. The venue was eventually changed to the South Dakota Circuit from where motor racing is still enjoyed today. There have been many outstanding moments in the world of Guyanese motor racing including the first locally-created car “The Beast”, and the rise of one of the finest female drivers, Gabriel Koenig.
HORSE RACING: Over the years this ‘sport of kings’ has become an increasingly popular spectator and betting activity. It has seen the establishment of a number of turf clubs in the Berbice region at Port Mourant, Bush Lot and West Coast Berbice and, more recently, in Georgetown with the establishment of the Demerara Turf Club at Mocha.
MARTIAL ARTS: Because of its Chinese heritage, the people of Guyana have always had a keen interest in Martial Arts. The sport’s leading lights are Frank Woon-a-Tai and Monasingh. With the exchange of skills from the Chinese Government, Guyana is grooming a new breed of martial artists in the art of Wu Sha, a fighting skill akin to Tai Chi.
BASKETBALL: A number of programmes are being run to encourage the development of basketball and there are regular competitions between local teams.
SWIMMING: The swimming programme in Guyana has seen a vast improvement with the introduction of clubs across the country in Georgetown, Stephanie Fraser has been instrumental in encouraging the development of skills at the Colgrain and Castellani pools. Guyana participates annually at the Inter Guyana games between Guyana, Suriname and French Guinea and recently participated at the Commonwealth Games.
VOLLEYBALL: Guyana has a well-organized programme for volleyball, which is co-ordinate by former national player, Lennox Shuffler.
The country’s sports bodies, including the Olympic Association, the National Sports Commission and other national sports associations, are all committed to fostering the highest levels of sporting excellence with the ultimate goal of winning medals at the Olympic Games. Guyana is working towards producing sportsmen and women who are dedicated and capable of competing at international level. With the support of the government, and the continued interest and commitment of the Guyanese people, the levels of sporting ability will continue to rise.