By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
HE serves as a vice president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and the outgoing first vice president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA). Now former sprinter Iram Lewis, who represented the Bahamas at both the Olympic Games and the IAAF World Championships, will add the president of the Grand Bahama Amateur Athletic Association (GBAAA) to his portfolio.
During the GBAAA elections on Wednesday night in Grand Bahama, Lewis beat Emmit Higgins to replace outgoing president Kem Stuart, who didn’t see another three-year term in office. Higgins, former coach at Sir Jack Hayward and now working at the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, will serve on Lewis’ administration as the first vice president.
“I knew there were some undercurrents going on, but I was totally confident that I was going to win it,” said Lewis, who came to Nassau yesterday to attend an executive meeting of the BOC. “There were one or two individuals who questioned my sanity as to why I would want to take a demotion to run for a local organisation.
“But Freeport, Grand Bahama is where I was born. I feel right at home. So it’s a honour rather than a demotion to be able to serve at home. Instead of worrying about what is going on in the BAAAs in Nassau, I want to concentrate on what I can do to help the sport in Grand Bahama.”
As the new president, Lewis said was able to embrace Higgins as his first vice president and together, they are now eager to work with the new administration that includes Dionne Britton as secretary general; Sandra Laing as assistant secretary general; Shakeitha Hendfield as public relations officer; Anton Bowleg as treasurer and Ravano Ferguson as assistant treasurer.
The council members are former president Anita Dougherty, Marge Morrison, Kelley Albury, James Vega and Eula White.
Grand Bahama, according to Lewis, is considered the ‘track and field country’ in the Bahamas and it boasts a wealth of talent and is well supported by the corporate sponsors and the fans. Since returning home, he has interacted with the public on a larger scale by opening his ‘The Copier Ltd’ business to help boost the economy.
“Of course, there are some things lacking in the administration and the overall structure of the organisation,” Lewis said. “Being a business person, my intention is bring the GBAAA into a business oriented organisation like I feel the BAAA should be operating as instead of just looking at it as a travel club with no real structure in place.
“The vision I had for the BAAA, in my view, I was not really allowed to exercise that or to bring it to fruition because of some things that happened. But I’m happy to be in a position where I can now modify those plans, which include Family Island development, to get the association to the level that it should be at.”
When he returns to Grand Bahama this weekend, Lewis said the GBAAA will prepare for its conclave on Monday night when they can “identify their game plan and a chart a road map” so that they can measure their success and the progress made by the executives as well as all of the stakeholders.
As for the BAAA’s election of officers that will be held on November 28, Lewis said he will not be running for office but he will be a part of the new administration by virtue of being the president of the GBAAA. And while there are two slates of officers headed by incumbent president Mike Sands and challenger Rosamaude Carey, Lewis said everybody should have an idea what side he will be casting his vote.
“We know that both sides were here in Grand Bahama because there are about 11-12 votes between the clubs and the president of the GBAAA,” Lewis said. “Trust me, if there was only one vote in Grand Bahama, they would not have been there. But because of the numbers, Grand Bahama could and will make the difference in the outcome of the elections.
“I just hope that at the end of the day when the elections are over and the new administration takes office, we will see some structure put in place and it’s run as a business organisation where the athletes are recognised as our most valuable resources and the coaches are not left out because the athletes will come and go, but a lot of the coaches have been around for 50, 40, 30 years.”
Lewis said he hope that the new administration will take a back seat and just administer and throw their support behind the athletes and the coaches and, at the same time, make the BAAA a more vibrant and self sufficient organisation.
“If you look at the model they are using, we are slipping and the rest of the world is catching up,” Lewis said. “So we have to find a way to regain our position in the Caribbean again.”
In honour of his deceased son, Iram Tavares Lewis III, who died on June 13, Lewis said he has recommitted himself to national service by taking the GBAAA to another level and by extension, he hopes that he can make the same type of commitment to both the BAAA and the BOC.