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The Finish Line: 2017 Promises To Be Banner Sporting Year

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Brent Stubbs

By BRENT STUBBS

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

IT IS 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 local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.

WELCOME TO 2017

FOR those of you that I didn’t get a chance to see personally or communicate through our sports pages, let me take this opportunity to say Happy New Year.

This promises to be yet another banner sporting year with quite a number of international events coming to our shores and just as many local events to fancy the appetite of all enthusiasts.

Looking at what’s on tap, the third annual King Eric Gibson All-For-One Regatta will set the stage this weekend in Montagu Bay.

The event comes on the heels of the Ministry of Local Government’s combined efforts with the Star Sailors League in pulling off a successful hosting of the inaugural Best-of-the-Best Regatta in December.

If what transpired with the transformation of Montagu Bay was any indication, the late King Eric Gibson would be proud to look down and view the tremendous progress that has been made in the sport that he has revitalised on just about every island with either their regatta or homecoming.

Montagu was quite a site to behold as both the local sloop sailing and the international Olympic style sailing emerged for the big year-end showdown to determine their respective champions.

It would be a shame if the organisers don’t continue that trend that has been started with the huge television monitors that gave the spectators on the shore a close-up view of the action out to sea.

By the end of the month, Georgette Rolle will get her fourth chance to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s 5th Annual Bahamas Pure Silk Ladies Golf Tournament at the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island.

The event will provide Rolle and Grand Bahamian native Raquel Riley, if she gets out of the qualifying drive, to rub shoulders with some of the best female golfers in the world in the lead up to the main draw at the end of the weeklong tournament.

No Bahamian female golfer has ever played in the main draw of any professional golf tournament and this is a great opportunity to have the first accomplish the feat right here on our home soil.

It seems as if Venezuela has given the Bahamas a gift by moving the first round of the Davis Cup American Zone II Tie to the Doral Park in Miami, Florida over the weekend of February 3-5.

It works in favour of the Bahamas as top two seeds brothers Baker and Spencer Newman are playing in their backyard so to speak, as it’s where they reside, train and play.

Not only that, it could increase the fanbase for the team as more and more Bahamians will be able to make the trek to our favourite place of vacation and shopping as opposed to trying to go all the way to South America.

It reminds me of the time when the Bahamas played the United States in the World Group playoffs in 1993 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hopefully, the results won’t be as it was with the team of Roger Smith, Mark Knowles, John Farrington and captain John Antonas who lost 5-0 to the American led Andre Agassi team. Of course, it was against the top ranked team in the world, so it was a tall order for the team to prevail.

But those fans that went to watch the historic tie in the USA indicated at the time that they thoroughly enjoyed every match played.

We’re fast becoming the destination of choice, not only for tourists, but more and more sporting organisations look forward to bracing the hospitality of our people and the warm sunny weather and beautiful waters that we have to offer.

Last year, the Bahamas Swimming Federation hosted a successful Caribbean Islands Swim Championships in the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex and they will have to do a repeat for the CARIFTA Games over the Easter holiday weekend, April 15-17.

Algernon Cargill, the president of the BSF, and his executives must be commended for the high level of professionalism that they exhibited to their visitors. Personally speaking to some of them, they indicated that they can’t wait to return for CARIFTA.

One of the challenges for the BSF is not just being great hosts, but taking advantage of the confines of home in regaining their title that they relinquished to Martinique last year.

And talking about taking advantage of the challenges offered at home, the International Amateur Athletic Federation will be returning for the third edition of the World Relays April 22-23 at Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.

With the event serving as a qualifier for all teams that make the final for the IAAF World Championships in London, England in August, let’s hope that the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations puts its best foot forward in ensuring that our best athletes are assembled to compete in both the men’s and women’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 metre relays.

We don’t want a repeat of last year where the men’s 4 x 100 and both the women’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 400m teams had to wait for the last minute to try and join the men’s 4 x 400m team in qualifying for the Olympic Games.

Fortunately, only the women’s 4 x 400m got in, thanks in part to the suspension of the Russian Athletic Federation by the IAAF for widespread doping violations.

Talking about the BAAA, I wish to congratulate the organisation on their 65th anniversary.

Track and field has indeed been the hallmark for the country and while there are too many names to call, we recognise all of the contributors, those who are still alive and those who are deceased, for the roles they all played.

Those are just some of the items on the sporting calendar for 2017. I look forward to the events just as much as I do watching our athletes excel to a higher level of competition.

See you around at some sporting event in 2017.

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