By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
IT'S not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it's how you finish.
• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in the local sports scene, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
The Amateur Boxing Federation of the Bahamas sent three boxers to the qualifying tournament in Tijuana, Mexico, and all three were successful in qualifying for the 17th Pan American Games by winning bronze medals.
The boxers - veteran welterweight Carl Hield, super heavyweight Kieshno Major and light welterweight Rashield Williams - had a chance to fight for either the silver or gold medals, but they fell short in their semi-final match. Maybe the fact that they all succeeded in qualifying for the Pan Am Games may have taken its toll.
The three boxers are considered the elite in the amateur boxing programme. They travelled to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland last year with Godfrey Strachan where I had a chance to watch them compete against some top notch competition. While Williams, Major and Strachan were all eliminated in the first round, Hield was ousted in the second round.
They now join the list of disciplines that will be heading to Toronto, although the Bahamas Olympic Association, under whose jurisdiction the games fall under, has not officially declared who will be going. One thing is certain, boxing will be represented and they will have three boxers making their presence felt in the ring.
So far, we know that track and field, swimming, wrestling and judo are among the list of disciplines that will carry the Bahamian flag at the games, which serves as a qualifier for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. While Hield has competed before, Williams and Major are now one step away from advancing to the ultimate games in the world.
And if their performances were any indication in Mexico, they have a legitimate chance to move on, but as Hield will tell you, it's no easy feat. I think the experience that they all gained in Glasgow last year and in Tijuana last week will help to motivate the group as they look forward to competing at the next level.
While we're on the subject of competing, it's disheartening to hear of the ordeal that collegiate basketball player Dwight Coleby had to go through over the weekend.
Coleby, a Grand Bahamian native, came home all geared up to compete for a spot on the men's national team that will be heading to Tortola, British Virgin Islands this weekend for the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships, but he suffered a major setback when his passport was stolen in the vandalism of a rental car that he was riding in with driver Donathan 'Donnie' Moss while they were watching the Scotiabank Defenders 'Defend Ya Spike' International Volleyball Tournament at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
As a member of the team that won the title last year, Coleby was one of those players that new head coach Mario Bowleg was relying on. Instead, Coleby will have to miss the trip. His presence will definitely be missed, but based on the team that has been selected, the Bahamas should still be able to be in a position to contest for the title a second straight year.
The incident is not the first that has occurred at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center and the adjacent Baillou Hills Sporting Complex in recent times.
There should be a need for proper lighting and adequate security to be put in place because not only are local residents, including women who travel along, but visitors as well, who frequent those facilities. It seems as if we are not even safe to go out and participate in local sporting activities anymore.
I hope that the culprit will at least return the passport to the police or at the gymnasium.
As for the gymnasium, the Scotiabank Defenders' international volleyball tournament was a smashing success with more and more international players coming to town to compete.
The Auto Mall Boomers was a prime example. Coaches Shedrack Forbes and Ricardo Demeritte Jr assembled a full cast of international players from throughout the United States who have never played together before and they were successful in dominating the ladies' division.
And once again, the Scotiabank Defenders, featuring Bahamian pro player Byron Ferguson and libero Jamaal Ferguson, repeated as champions, winning the title for the fourth consecutive years.
Organiser DeVince Ferguson and his committee should be commended for bringing an event that help to continue to push the Bahamas into the spotlight on the international scene. Although there were only players from the Caribbean and the United States, I'm sure that because of what they experienced, we could see more and more international players coming here as the tournament grows from year to year.
We need more clubs and organisations to follow suit in providing an avenue for more international players to come to the Bahamas to compete. This will only enhance the level of competition of our local players and the participation of more Bahamians in the stands cheering them on.
At the same time, let's give a cheer to Abaco's quarter-miler Steven Gardiner, who became the latest Bahamian to dip under the 45-second barrier.
Up to Saturday when he ran a personal best of 44.98 to win the men's 400m at the Star Athletics Sprint Classic in Montverde, Florida over Grand Bahamian Michael Mathieu, who was second in a season's best of 45.08, only eight other Bahamians have ran faster.
Gardiner, just 19 years old, has skipped the collegian ranks and has gone full fledge into the professional realm. This is the first year that Gardiner, who started out under the tutelage of the Rev Anthony Williams in Moore’s Island and is now under the watchful eyes of George Cleare at the University of Georgia, is competing and he's progressing quite well.
It should only bode well for the marquee men's event in the 400m at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' National Open Track and Field Championships at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium June 27-28 when he is expected to clash with national record holder Chris 'Fireman' Brown, Demetrius Pinder and Mathieu, just to name a few.
The Nationals, as usual, is shaping up to be an exciting event.
Not to be left out of the performance picture over the weekend was Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace. The country's most decorated swimmer added some more hardware to her collection when she posted three victories at the Mare Nostrum series meet in Canet-en-Rouddillon, France.
Vanderpool-Wallace just seems to be like wine, getting better with age. She is expected home to headline the list of swimmers who will be participating in the Bahamas Swimming Federation's Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming Championships June 25-28 at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Swim Complex.
And of course, looking at her performances so far this year, she is on course for another major splash at the Pan Am Games in August.
The Week Ahead
The BAAA will be holding its Junior National Track and Field Championships this weekend at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium. The event comes on the heels of the BAAA National Age Group Championships over the weekend in which the top performers emerged for selection to the national team that will travel to the CAC Age Group Championships in Trinidad & Tobago July 18-19.
Shaun Miller and Benjamin Clarke in the boys’ 13-14 heptathlon, Davon Johnson and Izaiah Farrington in the boys’ 11-12 pentathlon, Megan Moss and Tayla Lightbourn in the girls’ 13-14 heptathlon and Anthaya Charlton and Paige Stuart in the girls’ 11-12 pentathlon are the top eight competitors to make the trip as the Bahamas defends its title won two years ago in Willemstad, Curacao.
They are just waiting on the ratification from the BAAA.