By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
The gold medal performance of the Golden Knights men’s 4 x 400 metre relay team of Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller at the Olympic Games in London, England, in August was good enough to convince the media to select them as the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ 2012 Charlie Major Athletes of the Year.
Normally since the inception of the ceremony 13 years ago, the award would have been presented to the outstanding male or female, but this year those members of the press who voted selected the entire team for the award that was presented on Sunday at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Hotel. However, only Pinder and Miller were in attendance.
“It was expected in a way, but it was a good award for us because of what we accomplished. It shows that hard work always pays off,” said Miller, the anchor man of the team, who also gave the response on behalf of all the athletes. “As you can say, we are still getting rewarded, so we’re just taking it in stride. Hopefully this will inspire the younger generation. One day, they too can be getting this award.”
Pinder, who lost out in his bid for the Thomas A Robinson senior male athlete of the year to Brown, said it would have been a pleasure for him to collect it.
“I lost to a team-mate, who is a good guy. He works hard, so I wasn’t mad at all,” Pinder said. “I’m pretty happy for him. He deserves it. I know when there’s something for me, I will get it. Time will come for me to get my awards for my accomplishments.”
As for the team’s accomplishment, Pinder concurred with Miller.
“It was good for them to give the whole team award and not just recognise one person,” he said. “I felt that it was some good thinking and we appreciate what they did for us.”
While Brown carted off the senior male award, hurdler Ivanique Kemp captured the Senior Female Athlete of the Year.
The Bernard Nottage Junior Athlete of the Year went to sprinter Anthonique Strachan, who also took home the Diana Lynn Thompson Junior Female award.
The Errol Bodie Junior Male Athlete was high jumper Ryan Ingraham.
Kemp, now entering her senior year at the University of Arkansas, was thrilled about her achievement.
“It’s an awesome feeling. I worked really hard all year for it,” said the Olympic semifinal who set a new national 100 hurdles record in the NCAA Division One preliminaries in 13.13 seconds. “I knew I had some good competition for it, but I worked really hard this year, so I sort of expected it.”
From her repeat performance as the Austin Sealy Most Outstanding Athlete at Carifta where she doubled up as the champion in the 100 and 200, a feat she carried to the IAAF World Junior Championships to a semifinal appearance at the Olympics and being named as the IAAF Female Rising Star of the Year, Strachan said she was delighted to have been honoured in the manner that she was.
“It’s very exciting to think that I deserved all of the awards that I got,” said Strachan, who is preparing to enrol in college in January. “Even though I was honoured by the IAAF as the Female Rising Star, it’s even more exciting to be honoured by your country because it shows that they recognise the things that you did for your country.”
A gold at Carifta and bronze at the IAAF World Junior Championships while earning a No.1 junior ranking in the world was enough to propel Ryan Ingraham to the top of the list for the Errol Bodie Junior Male Athlete.
“I feel it’s just another step in my career. I felt great,” said Ingraham, who has decided to venture onto the pro circuit next year. “I knew it was going to be a stiff competition with the twins, but I was just hoping for the best.”
One of the biggest performances came from North Andros’ long/triple jumper Tamara Myers, who picked up the Collegiate Female Field Athlete over high jumper Kenya Culmer.
“I felt good about my accomplishment tonight. I felt I could have done better, but I thank God for allowing me to come this far in track and field,” said Myers, who is preparing for her senior year at the University of Arkansas. “I’m so proud of my accomplishment.”
The Angela Rolle Under-15 Female Athlete was Dreshanne Rolle and the Under-15 Male Athlete was Valentino Bodie.
The ballroom was packed to capacity as a number of other awards, including the Henry Crawford Coach of the Year that was presented to Diane Woodside and the Official of the Year that went to Sherry Walker, were handed out.
A number of dignitaries, including patron and first minister of sports, Kendal Nottage, his brother and minister of national security Bernard Nottage, Minister of Sports Dr Daniel Johnson; Bahamas Olympic Committee vice president Roy Colebrooke and secretary general Rommel Knowles, were in attendance.
While the Golden Knights were highlighted during the course of the event, there was a special video presentation shown in memory of the late Paul Adderley, a former president of the BAAA, former Minister of Sports, Charles Maynard and legendary icon Thomas A Robinson, as the Rahming Brothers performed their hit song ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.’
In his address sitting from his wheelchair, Kendal Nottage relived the memories of his time in office back in the 1970s and how he was able to convince then Prime Minister Lynden Pindling to construct the old Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium as a result of the Bahamas national team’s fantastic performance at the Carifta Games.
And in looking forward, new Minister of Sports Dr. Johnson said there are some big plans for the new Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium. He noted that a lot of effort is being put in to continue the success that the Bahamian athletes have achieved this year.
BAAA president Mike Sands said after looking at the fantastic performances that the athletes were able to achieve at the international meets overseas this year, they are looking forward to the hosting of the Carifta Games in April where the Bahamian people will get a chance to show their gratitude to the local athletes and coaches.
Simone Beneby, a comedian and president of the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association, acted as the co-MC for the event with BAAA first vice president Iram Lewis. Bishop Arnold Josey, pastor of Commonwealth Baptist Church and Rev Timothy Stewart, pastor of historic Bethel Baptist Church, gave the invocation and blessed the food respectively.
Jerome Sawyer, senior manager for marketing at BTC, introduced two new commercials that they were able to produce, featuring the Golden Knights and swimmer Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace. BTC, along with the Builder’s Mall and FYP, were among the major sponsors.
HERE’s a look at the winners of the BAAAs year-ending awards:
Basil Neymour Most Outstanding Junior Male Athlete - Teray Smith
Keith Parker Most Outstanding Junior Male Field Athlete - Ryan Ingraham
Anita Dougherty Most Outstanding Junior Female Athlete - Anthonique Strachan
Ronald Cartwright Most Oustanding Junior Field Athlete - Tamara Myers
Cross Country Female Athlete - Hughnique Rolle
Cross Country Male Athlete - Leonardo Forbes
Collegiate Female Track Athlete - Ivanique Kemp
Collegiate Female Field Athlete - Tamara Myers
Collegiate Male Track Athlete - Warren Fraser
Collegiate Male Field Athlete - Raymond Higgs
Angela Rolle Under-15 Youth Female Athlete - Dreshanne Rolle
Under-15 Youth Male Athlete - Valentino Bodie
Diana Lynn Thompson Junior Female Athlete - Anthonique Strachan
Errol Bodie Junior Male Athlete - Ryan Ingraham
Bernard J. Nottage Junior Athlete - Anthonique Strachan
Collegiate Female Athlete - Ivanique Kemp
Harrison Petty Collegiate Male Athlete - Raymond Higgs
Sir Durward Knowles Family Island Athlete - Andre Colebrooke
Senior Female Athlete - Ivanique Kemp
Thomas A Robinson Senior Male Athlete - Chris Brown
Charlie Major Senior Athlete - Men’s 4 x 400 relay team of Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller
Henry Crawford Coach of the Year - Dianne Woodside
Official of the Year - Sherry Walker