By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
With this being the 60th anniversary for both the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations and the Bahamas Olympic Committee, it would have been a good idea to see a campaign launched by both sporting bodies to have at least a 60-member team represent the Bahamas at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Considering that London, England, is just a stone's throw away and the Olympics is the closest it has been in our region since it was in our backyard in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, for argument sake, there are many who would agree that it's a shame that so far we only have two sports and just about 20 athletes or so who have qualified to compete.
The BAAA alone should have had at least half that number when you look at the tremendous success our athletes attained in the last Olympics in Beijing, China, in 2008.
There's no reason why, when looking at the vast amount of athletes that are competing or who have just finished the collegiate scene, that we should not have qualifiers in all of the sprinting and jumping events.
On top of that, it's high time that the Bahamas ventures outside of the men's 4 x 400 and women's 4 x 100 meter relays to include appearances in the men's 4 x 100 and women's 4 x 400 meter relays.
I applaud coach Henry Rolle and the rest of the relay coordinators, who have made a gallant effort to field teams to secure one of the top 16 times in the world in order to book a lane in London.
But while the majority of the athletes have made themselves available, there are still some more who could and should be included and have not done so for whatever reason.
Maybe the BAAA should have a "Last Chance" meet at its Scotiabank National Open Track and Field Championships for all four relay teams to compete.
I'm sure Rolle, with his contacts in the United States, can bring down some quality athletes who can form "World Elite" teams that can be matched against the Bahamas and provide the push to help them get over the hump.
Come on. Let's push to make it a reality. With so many of our athletes expected home for the nationals, I'm sure that Rolle, or whoever is designated for that role, can put the teams together and at the same time give the public a sneak preview of what to expect if they can't make the trek all the way to London for the Games.
As for swimming, it's just a pity that so far just Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace has surpassed the qualifying standard. She has been performing exceptionally well all season long for Auburn University and should be at her peak in London.
The women's 4 x 100 freestyle relay team of Vanderpool-Wallace, Alana Dillette, Alicia Lightbourne and Ariel Weech has tried to make an historic feat by producing one of the top 16 times in the world. They are right on the borderline, sitting in the 16th spot.
It's a dangerous position to be in, considering the fact that there are still some countries that have still not competed as yet and have the potential to knock the Bahamas out.
Like the BAAA, the Bahamas Swimming Federation should also probably consider just their nationals in June as a "Last Chance" meet where they also invite one or two neighbouring teams to come in and be matched against our women's team.
Granted, the Olympics only comes around every four years and unlike the track and field athletes, the swimming careers don't last as long. There are very few swimmers who stay around from one Olympics to the next.
How about the other sports?
Boxing had two legitimate competitors - Valentino Knowles and Carl Hield - who both recently fell short in their final trials in Trinidad & Tobago.
Tennis got eliminated after Mark Knowles had a conflict with his schedule at the French Open during the same time that the Bahamas was playing Davis Cup.
But in the latter case, there was no certainty, even if the Bahamas had a chance to qualify for the Olympics, that Knowles would have turned down the Grand Slam to compete at the American Zone III. That brings up a very interesting question.
Do you think that our sporting leaders are doing all that they can to ensure that our athletes get every opportunity to maximise their abilities so that they can compete at the next level?
As you marinate on that, let's give kudos to those athletes and even administrators and coaches who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that those who have qualified did so in a timely fashion.
This is a celebratory year for our two major sporting bodies - the BAAA and the BOA. So let's hope that even if we don't have a 60-member team in London, we will still be able to make our presence felt with who we have.