By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER the debate over the absence of some of the athletes from the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' Scotiabank National Track and Field Championships last month because of injuries, the Bahamas Olympic Committee has selected all but one of those attaining the qualifying standards for the 2012 Olympic Games.
In a joint press conference on Friday, the BOC released the names of the 23 athletes, inclusive of 10 female and 13 males, who will represent the Bahamas in London, England when the games take place from July 27-August 12.
The team, which features just one swimmer, comprises of a cross section of veterans and eight first time competitors from track and field. There should have been nine first timers, but even though Nivea Smith qualified in the women's 200, she was injured during her collegiate season for Auburn University and withdrew from further competition this year.
Roy Colebrooke, the chef de mission, said the team represents the core of the athletes who performed to the level where they were selected to compete in their respective events. He noted that he's disappointed that cycling, under which he serves as the president of the Bahamas Cycling Federation, has not yet reached the Olympic qualification.
But there should be some concern for the other disciplines like tennis and boxing, the latter of which is represented by BOC's president Wellington Miller, with no competitors qualified this year.
As for the track team, BAAA's president Mike Sands said the selection process was a smooth and transparent one.
"You either had to make the A standard or the B standard. All of the athletes met the A or the B standard," Sands said. "If you have one athlete who makes the A standard and any additional athletes who want to compete in that event, they must make the A standard. In the case of the B standard, you can only have one athlete competing in any event."
There were some concerns about the absence of athletes from the Nationals and although all of them that have qualified have been named to the team, Sands said their performances are being monitored closely by the IOC and the team doctor, Dr. Rickey Davis.
"This is why we're asking that all of them be in camp by July 16th so that they can be closely and properly monitored," Sands said.
For those athletes who have qualified for multiple events, Sands said a decision will be made in consultation with the coaches and the athletes in terms of which events they will compete in before the technical committee meeting takes place in London.
The one swimmer selected is Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, who will compete in both the women's 50 and 100 metre freestyle races in her second appearance at the games. She will be coached by her Auburn University head coach Brett Hawke, assisted by Lionel Moreau.
On the women's side for track and field, are three competitors - Sheniqua 'Q' Ferguson, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Anthonique Strachan, - who all qualified for the 100 and 200 metres as well as Shaunae Miller, who doubles as a qualifier in both the 200 and 400.
Veterans Chandra Sturrup and Christine Amertil didn't qualify in any individual events, but they will join Ferguson, Ferguson-McKenzie, Strachan and rookie V'Alonee Robinson in the women's 4 x 100 metre relay pool.
As for the men, three sprinters - Derrick Atkins, Warren Fraser and Michael Mathieu - along with three quarter-milers - Demetrius Pinder, Ramon Miller and Chris 'Fireman' Brown - will head the list.
Wesley Neymour and Andrae Williams have been added to the men's 4 x 400 relay pool that will include Mathieu, Pinder, Miller and Brown.
The other athletes named to the team will either compete in the technical events like the high hurdles - Ivanique Kemp and Shamar Sands; the long jumps - Bianca Stuart and Raymond Higgs; the men's triple jump - Leevan 'Superman' Sands and the men's high jump - Trevor Barry and Donald Thomas.
Historically, the Bahamas would have just selected a head coach with a cadre of assistant coaches. This year, for the first time, there will be a head coach for the men in David Charlton, while Dianne Woodside will serve as the head coach for the women. The assistant coaches are Ronald Cartwright, and Henry Rolle. The chaperone is Tonique Williams-Darling.
Charlton said it's a honour for him to be selected as a member of the coaching staff.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with these athletes and to represent the Bahamas as a coach," he said.
As a coach, Charlton said he took exception to the claim during the trials for the United States team that the sprinting event at the Olympics will come down to a contest between the US and Jamaica.
"All of our athletes are going to go out there and give it our all," he said. "Given the fact that we have been able to make the A standard and a lot of our athletes are in the top ten in the world. So we're going to be very competitive in all events. I'm confident about that."
With just the men's 4 x 4 relay team to work with, Charlton said he's even more eager to see how they respond to the challenge this year. He said he's confident that the team have the ability to win the gold medal.
Woodside, who made history when she was selected as the first female coach at the IAAF World hampionships in Daegu, South Korea last year, said she's hoping that the experience gained will help her in executing her duties as the female coach in London.
"The women, of course over the years have have been very strong as far as track and field is concerned," she said. "I'm honoured to be a part of this team as a woman and as the head coach. We're going to go down there and do our best because I know they will be happy to know that they will have a woman assisting them."
Although they have a mixture of youth and experience, Woodside said with the assistance from Williams-Darling, who won the gold medal in the 400 at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, she knows without a shadow of a doubt that the team will be well prepared when they step out on the track.
BOC's president Wellington Miller said they are working closely with the Bahamas High Commission in London to ensure that the athletes will feel right at home. He noted that they have set up a house not too far from the Games Village where the athletes will be entertained in Bahamian style.
"Kerzner International have agreed to give us one of their best Bahamian chefs so that our athletes will have Bahamian food when they come to the Bahama House to sit back and relax," he said. "The Bahama House will be a gathering point for athletes to meet their friends and relatives who come to celebrate the Olympic Games."
Here's a look at the athletes selected and they events they qualified or were named to compete in:
Christine Amertil - 4 x 100 metre relay.
Sheniqua Ferguson - 100, 200, 4 x 100 relay.
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie - 100, 200, 4 x 100 relay.
Ivanique Kemp - 100 hurdles.
Shaunae Miller - 200, 400 metres
V'Alonee Robinson - 4 x 100 relay.
Anthonique Strachan - 100, 200, 4 x 100 relay.
Bianca Stuart - long jump.
Chandra Sturrup - 4 x 100 relay.
Derrick Atkins - 100 metres.
Trevor Barry - high jump.
Chris Brown - 400, 4 x 400 relay.
Warren Fraser - 100 metres.
Raymond Higgs - long jump.
Michael Mathieu - 200, 400, 4 x 400 relay.
Ramon Miller - 200, 400, 4 x 400 relay.
Wesley Neymour - 4 x 400 relay.
Demetrius Pinder - 400, 4 x 400 relay.
Leevan Sands - triple jump.
Shamar Sands - 110 hurdles.
Donald Thomas - high jump.
Andrae Williams - 4 x 400 relay.
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace - 50 and 100 metres freestyle.
Chef de mission - Roy Colebrooke.
Administration - Mike Sands, Algernon Cargill, Dianne Miller.
BOC Executives - David Morley, Larry Wilson.
Swimming coaches - Brett Hawke, Lionel Moreau.
Track and field coaches - David Charlton, dianne Woodside, Ronald Cartwright, Henry Rolle.
Chaperone - Tonique Williams-Darling.
Special coach - Shaun Miller.
Medical team - Katrice Robisno (Physio Therapist); Jenn Davis (Chiropractor); Rickey Davis (Chief Medical Officer); Philip Clausen (Chiropractor).