Drive through the parish of St. Andrew in Barbados and you are more than likely to come across a Nissan X-Trail with the registration number A 1314. A registration number that is symbolic of the successful sprint that Ryan Brathwaite put on display at the world championships in Berlin, Germany.
Ryan Brathwaite is a young Barbados Olympian hurdler who impressively won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.14 seconds at the world championships in Berlin, Germany in a 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.
Many may wonder where he suddenly came from but as the popular folksong that can be heard at Independence time in Barbados goes "Everywhere uh go, people want tuh know, why uh smiling so, why, St. Andrew uh come from".
Ryan Brathwaite was born in the parish of St. Andrew in Barbados and from a child had always possessed a passion for running. 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 but this time competitively.
Prior to his athletic years while at Lester Vaughan Secondary School, Barbados wasn't fully aware of the true talent this son of the soil had to offer. His first run occured on the world stage in 2005 at the 2005 World Youth Championships in Athletics where he ran home with a silver medal in the 110 meter hurdles.
The following year in 2006, he won the CAC Junior Championships. 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.
Despite placing fourth in the finals of the 2008 Central American and Caribbean Championships in Athletics, Ryan set a national record when he won his heat in 13.49 seconds. He soon stepped up that previous time with a time of 13.38 at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
In 2009, he 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 execute 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.
A mural of this world champion, gold medallist hurdler paints a strong picture of Ryan's passion for running along with victory. Painted by local artist Don Small, it was unveiled in his Church Gap, Hillaby, St. Andrew neighbourhood as part of the celebrations honouring his outstanding accomplishments at the International Amateur Athletics Federation's World Championships in Berlin.
Neighbours and friends along with Ryan's dad, Eugene Brathwaite, delivered numerous tributes before the unveiling of the mural. This unveiling was followed by a motorcade that left Farmer's Playing Field in St. Thomas, travelled through to Farm Path, Hillaby, Gregg Farm, Turner's Hall, Bawdens, Walkers Tenantry, St. Andrew's Church and Shorey Village. They then headed into Belleplaine through the Ermie Bourne Highway onto Barclays Park, Lakes Village, Belleplaine, Babylon Road and made their way back to the Farmers Playing Field. Full support was seen along the aforementioned routes as the people of St. Andrew came out in droves to witness this momentus event.
Ryan Brathwaite has shown Barbados and the world that one can rise from humble upbringings and sprint on 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.
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