By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AS he gets ready to wind down his illustrious athletic career, quarter-miler Chris 'Fireman' Brown has been given the assurance that the Bahamas Government will throw their support behind his endeavours as the promoter of his Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational.
After the successful hosting of the inaugural event in 2013, Brown got sidetracked in pulling off the next edition over the next few years because of a number of problems.
In 2014, he had to postpone because of the renovation of the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium for the IAAF World Relays and was guaranteed by then Minister of Sports Dr Daniel Johnson that it will be held in 2015.
That didn't happen because of a lack of funding and with the Olympic Games last year, it was again postponed. Brown attempted to put it on again this year, but didn't get the financial support he needed.
After calling it off, he was invited by the Local Organising Committee to work with the staging of the inaugural Grenada Invitational that was held on April 8.
At the opening of the recent Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' National Open Track and Field Championships in Grand Bahama, the new minister of sports, Michael Pintard assured Brown that the Bahamas Government will throw their support behind his efforts.
"I'm committed and I believe that the ministry will be committed to supporting Chris Brown's initiative going forward," Pintard declared. "We have to work out the right formula that is in the best interest of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and for the Bahamian athletes once they are brought forth.
"There are a number of international meets that have been discussed as to whether or not they are benefitting local sports when it comes or whether or not we are attracting enough international capital to stage these events."
Pintard said they just want to ensure that the Bahamas Government is not footing the entire bill for hosting the international events being held in the Bahamas and not reaping the benefits that they should incur to the detriment of the local events like the Chris Brown Invitational.
"When the international events come to town, Pintard said the government should be committed to ensuring that the country benefit from the television rights, placing heads in bed in the hotels and satisfying both the local and international market for merchandises so that the Bahamian people benefit from all initiatives put forth.
Brown said it was great news to his ear. "We haven't spoken officially yet, but I heard the announcement," Brown said. "It was good to hear that coming out of the mouth of the minister. It just makes me feel good to know that I am getting the support again. I'm just looking forward to what the future brings."
When asked if he is working towards re-establishing his meet or he will continue to concentrate on the Grenada Invitational, Brown said he feels he can fulfil the role of the two.
"They haven't gotten their meet up and running the way they want it to, so I don't just want to leave them now that I'm going to get the support here," he said.
"I want to be able to help them out in a way that we can both benefit so that the region can have a couple of big international meets which would be good for the Caribbean. So I'm looking forward to it."
Brown, however, said with the Commonwealth Games being held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia from April 4-15 April, 2018, he will have to look at how the calendar unfolds so that he can try to get the invitational in.
"I would definitely be looking forward to doing it again," he stated. "I think the athletes enjoyed competing in the first one and they have been asking about when they can come back and compete in another on."
Brown, 38, competed in what he termed his 'final nationals' in Grand Bahama where he placed sixth in the marquee men's 400 metres in 47.02 seconds.
In addition to the preliminaries, in which he ran the night before, Brown competed in just his first two races for the year after spending a great deal of time assisting Grenada with their invitational.
"I was able to compete another race healthy and compete with these gentlemen," he said. "With these being my first two races for the season, I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be. I still have some more fining toning.
"The bible say teach the young ones the way that they should go, so I think I've done a great job of motivating and encouraging these young men to be able to carry the baton. It feels good to see them stepping up. Hopefully they can continue the legacy."
With the IAAF World Championships scheduled for August 5-13 in London, England, Brown said he will work towards helping out the men's 4 x 400m team in whatever capacity he's called upon.
"Even if I don't get to compete in the relays, I must say it was a joy to come to Grand Bahama and to close out my local campaign, running here for the final time," he said.
"I just want to say that I really appreciate the Bahamian support throughout my career and it felt so good running here for the final time. It didn't matter what position I came, I got into the final and I was able to finish the race."
If he is selected to represent the Bahamas in London, Brown said he hope to be in a much better position to run than he did in Grand Bahama because the competition has improved tremendously around the world.
If he doesn't make it, he said he will look at calling it quits after running internationally for two decades, starting out as a double bronze medalist at the 1997 Carifta Games in Bridgetown, Barbados in the 400 and 800m.
He made a successful senior debut as champion of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 400m in Doha, Qatar in 2010 and he went on to produce a silver in Sopot, Poland in 2014, along with bronze in Moscow, Russia in 2006, Valencia, Spain in 2008 and Istanbul, Turkey in 2012.
The native from Eleuthera won silver and bronze in the 400m at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in 2003 in St George's, Grenada and here at home at the Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium in 2005 respectively.
Additionally, Brown won the Pan American Games' gold medal in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
But if there were any missing pieces in his prized possessions, it would be the fact that he's not attained the ultimate goal of winning individually in his five trips to both the Olympic Games and the IAAF World Championships.
He is the former national record holder of the men's 400m in a personal best of 44.40 seconds in Oslo on June 6, 2008 and still the holder of the 800m record of 1:49.54 that was produced on August 17, 1998.
Brown, however, can lay claim to being a member of every men's 4 x 400m relay team that has won a gold, silver or bronze medal at the Olympics, World Outdoor and Indoor Championships, the Pan Am Games, the CAC Championships.
He anchored the team of Michael Mathieu, Alonzo Russell and Shavez Hart that established the national record of 3:04.75 on March 20, 2016 at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon.
And he joins the team of Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller as the national 4 x400m record holders in 2:54.72 at the 2012 Olympics in London, England, a place he would definitely like to go back and close out his illustrious career next month.