By RENALDO DORSETT
A NEW venture, both for the Bahamas and the IAAF, the Bahamas emerged from the rigorous selection process based on its rich athletics history and attraction as a sports tourism destination.
Essar Gabriel, secretary general of the IAAF, called the Bahamas a “land of relays,” one of the determining factors in the decision to make the country hosts of the first two editions of the event in 2014 and 2015.
“This is a land of relays, this is a land of champions and this is a land of athletics,” he said. “We are in pioneering times. When you look back at where many of these events started there is always an act of faith. That’s where we are now as an organisation and we are trying to get together on that course with the Bahamas and this event. There was also a strong wave put forward by government teaming up with the BAAAs.”
IAAF council member Alberto Juantorena-Danger, who was a voting member in the selection process, said he was impressed with how engaged the Bahamas was in their role as hosts.
The Cuban former Olympic champion in both the 400m and 800m, from the perspective of a former athlete, heralded the Bahamas’ success on the track and the commitment toward the event at the administrative level.
“What put the Bahamas over the top was their results on the track. Team Bahamas has always, always performed well at this stage and especially in relays. The legacy, the tradition,” he said. “From the top, the Prime Minister to the people, the support the country has shown has been fantastic. That is why we are here and so happy and so committed to work with the beautiful and wonderful people here in the Bahamas.”
Bob Hersh, senior vice president of the IAAF, led the delegation to their second site meeting in New Providence, ahead of the two-day meet scheduled for May 24-25, 2014.
Hersh said the planning phase of the event is “on course” at the moment, due to the organisational structure set in place by the local organising committee.
“We were satisfied with the results of these meetings,” he said. “As you can imagine as for any project of this magnitude as a major international event, there are many things that need to be in place and need the cooperation and work, not only of the IAAF and their staff, but more important it has to be done locally. It has really been a pleasure to work with those who are responsible for organising the infrastructure here in the Bahamas. It has been a very productive relationship thus far.”
The IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014 will welcome over 700 athletes and 300 team officials from more than 40 nations. With only months to go until the inaugural IAAF World Relays, the LOC is intent on mobilising corporate Bahamas and the public in general in an effort to build support for the sporting event.
The LOC officially launched its marketing campaign last week, approximately six months ahead of next year’s highly anticipated event.