By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE 2012 Olympic Games is history and the celebrations for the “Golden Knights” - the men’s 4 x 400 metre relay team that won gold - are over.
It was certainly a tremendous ride over the past two weeks for Chris “Fireman” Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon “Fearless” Miller since they returned home from London, England. They were wined and dined everywhere they went and flooded with gifts, including photographs, watches, cellphones, land and money.
They were also blessed spiritually.
Now it’s time to prepare for the future - not just for the athletes, but the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations and the Bahamas Olympic Committee - with the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016 on the horizon.
The men’s gold medal performance to upset the United States of America will definitely inspire a lot more young men to compete in the 400 metres with the hopes of getting a chance to be a part of the national team in the future. But what about those competitors who were in London as a part of the relay pool and didn’t get a chance to compete?
Except for Andrae Williams, who attended the functions held in Grand Bahama on Monday, there was no sight of Wesley Neymour, who was making his debut on the biggest global meet in the world, or even veteran Avard Moncur. Neither of them were a part of any of the celebrations, even though they didn’t get to compete in either the heat or the final.
Only those competitors who compete are eligible for the medal or any incentive as the quartet received.
But at least the other competitors should have been invited to attend some of the functions, considering the fact that they were originally a part of the team. The same could be said for the other members of the 26-member team that represented the Bahamas.
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, the only swimmer to represent the Bahamas at the games, was in attendance for the team’s welcome home ceremony at the Lynden Pindling International Airport. But she vanished afterwards. It was as if her historic appearance in the final of the women’s 50 metres freestyle was not appreciated at all.
There was hardly any mention of her achievement, or any public recognition.
Once again, swimming got overshadowed by athletics. I’m sure that the other athletes, whether they won a medal or got into the final or not, would have liked to travel along with the “Golden Knights.” After all, they spent almost a month blending together in England, starting with the training camp in Crawley before they went into the Games Village.
They were all a part of Team Bahamas.
Sure there were commitments that only the “Golden Knights” should attend, but it would have been great for the public to at least see them all on a float parade and give them some encouragement and extend their appreciation for their performances. I’m sure the athletes would have enjoyed the opportunity to travel to Grand Bahama and Eleuthera and likewise, the residents would have been just as pleased to see them all.
The celebrations, by the way, were organised by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture on behalf of the Government of the Bahamas.
As fate would have it, they only needed to concentrate on four athletes because the Bahamas finished with just one medal - a gold from Brown, Pinder, Mathieu and Miller in the men’s 4 x 400 relay.
CONGRATS TO BROWN
Of all the awards and recognition that they received, I’m sure that Brown was more delighted with the surprise he got during the parade in his hometown in Wemyss Bight, Eleuthera, on Wednesday night.
The street that he grew up on in the blue and white house of his parents, Nola and Harcourt Brown - Cotton Bay Road - was renamed the Chris “Fireman” Brown Boulevard. He cut the ribbon with his parents and unveiled the new name with Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Danny Johnson and Member of Parliament Damien Gomez.
With his “Golden Knights” teammates - Pinder, Mathieu and Miller - all there to watch, Brown got the kind of recognition that was fit for a king. He is indeed a wholesome name and a beloved son of the community in the southern end of the island. He’s just the second Bahamian athlete to be honoured in this way.
The other is Tonique Williams-Darling – Harrold Road was renamed after her following her back-to-back Olympics and IAAF World gold medal performances in 2004 in Athens, Greece, and 2005 in Helsinki, Finland, respectively.
Hopefully, when the new Thomas A Robinson Stadium is completed, a stature of all of our Olympic and world championship medallists will be erected on the outside. On the inside, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if certain segments of the seating area can be designed and named in their honour as well.
Just some food for thought.
BAAA AND BOC IN SAME DILEMMA
As they both prepare for the post-Olympics, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations and the Bahamas Olympic Committee are heading to a crossroad.
The nation’s two highest profile sporting bodies are gearing up for their election of officers in November and it’s going to be an interesting off season for the incumbent administrations, who are now campaigning for another term in office.
In the case of the BAAA, Mike Sands is looking at building on the inroads he has made during his three terms as president. But once again, he’s expected to be heavily challenged for the top spot. Sands, however, is confident that he has done enough to be given another chance, especially considering the fact that the BAAA have some big plans on the agenda.
The new Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium is almost complete for occupancy and that will set the stage for the BAAA in the hosting of the 2013 Carifta Games as well as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) inaugural World Relay Championships in 2014 and 2015, three events Sands and his executives have lobbied hard to bring to the Bahamas.
Will it be enough to convince the delegates to vote him back in office? Only time will tell.
Since removing long-time president Sir Arlington Butler from office, Wellington Miller has been sitting in the high chair in the BOC. In fact, it was under Miller’s first tenure as president that the BOC changed its name from the original Bahamas Olympic Association to coincide with its parent body - the International Olympic Committee.
Miller and his secretary general Romel Knowles, along with chef de mission Roy Colebrooke, a vice president in the BOC, must all be commended for the manner in which they functioned before and during the Olympics in London. They all brought a lot more awareness to the organisation.
But if there was any knock on their administration, it was the fact that the Bahamas only participated in swimming with one competitor and 25 in athletics at the Olympics.
Miller, who doubled as president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Bahamas (ABAB), had the dubious task of trying to get not one, but two boxers qualified for the trip to London. But both Carl Hield and Valentino Knowles fell short right up to the final stage of qualifying tournaments and they were not able to continue the legacy that Taureano ‘Reno’ Johnson left behind.
However, Miller played an even more important role as he and Knowles were instrumental in the operation of the Bahamas House, adjacent to the home of the British High Commission to London, Paul Farquharson, where the Bahamian residents in London got a chance to mix and mingle over lunch and dinner on a daily basis with Team Bahamas, officials, parents and the media from the Bahamas.
It was the first time that such a gesture was extended and although not everybody got to visit the house, those that did felt right at home, which was the original purpose.
There were many positive aspects that came out of the BOC since Miller and his executives took over. Is it enough for them to hold on to their position?
Like the BAAA, only time will tell.
But there’s one thing for sure. The BOC has a lot of work to do over the next four years in getting the Bahamas ready, no doubt, with a bigger team and more sporting disciplines, to compete at the next Olympics in Rio in 2016.