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The Finish Line: Farewell Dr Bernard Nottage, One Of Our Most Outstanding Athletes

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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.

THE WEEK

THAT WAS

There was an argument that had the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations held its National Open Track and Field Championships in New Providence, the outcome might have been different.

I beg to differ.

The BAAA event, over the last few years, clashed with the Bahamas Swimming Federation’s National Swimming Championships when the two are held simultaneously at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.

In taking the nationals back to the Grand Bahama Sports Complex, the BAAA clashed with the Bahamas Baseball Federation’s National Championships at the EMERA Baseball Stadium.

So whether it was in Nassau or Grand Bahama, it would not have made a difference in timing as all three nationals were conducted at the same time.

As for the athletes’ participation, there weren’t any big names missing as all of the elite athletes who are vying for a spot on the team for the IAAF World Championships in London, England in August were there.

In some cases, the performances were not what were expected, but having the meet in Grand Bahama didn’t have any effect on that.

There were some who felt the meet should have been pushed up to an earlier start in the afternoon for better lighting, but the flip side was that the majority of the people didn’t show up until after the meet got started.

And even though it was in Grand Bahama, I don’t think the fan participation would have been any better had it been staged in New Providence.

I agree that better promotion should have taken place prior to the meet, but I don’t think it would have attracted more people to travel to Grand Baahama.

We have two islands capable of hosting the meet, so why can’t the BAAA take the nationals to Grand Bahama every now and then instead of just keeping it in New Providence.

Surprisingly, there were quite a number of Grand Bahamians now competing, who came home to delight the local fans, who probably would not have had the opportunity to see them if it was in New Providence.

We have to be fair to both islands and share the pie around.

With a change in government and all of the seats on Grand Bahama occupied by the ruling Free National Movement, I’m sure that more attention will be placed on the facilities there.

One local official said persons should have seen the site the stadium was in prior to the nationals. They would not have believed the transformation.

Whenever we get ready for the hosting of any event, especially in New Providence, we give the stadium a facelift. So I assumed the same was done at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex.

But to say that under those circumstances the Nationals were not exciting at all, is an understatement. The BAAA provided the venue and the athletes came out and performed.

I know two iconic legends, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown, didn’t have the traditional performances we’re accustomed to seeing. But we have to remember that they are both at the end of their careers.

It would have been good to see more emphasis placed on giving them the proper send off rather than worrying about any hyped up promotions before hand, or if the nationals were held in Grand Bahama rather than in New Providence.

BBF NATIONALS

Take a 10-15 minute drive, depending on the traffic, and one could be traverse from the Grand Bahama Sports Complex to the EMERA Baseball Stadium for the National Baseball Championships.

Grand Bahama provided a choice in menu for the die hard sporting fan to wet their appetite.

While the BAAA Nationals drew all of their big name stars, the BBF Nationals was hampered by the absence of some of the other islands, including the Freedom Farm league from New Providence. There was also a no show from Abaco, which has provided some keen competition in the past.

But despite the fact that there was only the Junior Baseball League of Nassau who matched up against the Grand Bahama’s Legacy or the Little League in the Junior League for players 13-15 and the High School for 16-18 respectively, the tournament was termed a success.

The Coach Pitch for 7-8, the Minor League for 9-10 and the Major League for 11-12, had a round robin tournament with at least three or more teams before their finalists could be determined.

The tournament definitely has the potential to be one of the most exciting nationals in the country because the venue at EMERA is conducive for staging such an event. The same question could be poised to the baseball organisers.

Would it make a difference if the nationals were staged in New Providence at either the St Andrew’s Field of Dreams or the Freedom Farm complex, which are both more than adequate for hosting it?

The crowd was typical of what one can expect in New Providence. So why is there no argument for the baseball nationals being moved from Grand Bahama too?

The baseball nationals, just like the track nationals, was entertaining for the crowd that showed up. I think they got their money’s worth.

The only difference, in my opinion, is that the baseball nationals should have attracted more teams from the various islands.

At the same time, I have to commend the federation for honouring retired Major Leaguer Antoan Richardson, along with former players turned coaches Mario Ford and Bertie Murray Jr as well as Carl Nottage and former scorer Bob Sumner with the Lifetime Achievement Awards. They all rightfully deserved the accolades.

THE WEEK AHEAD

FAREWELL DR

NOTTAGE

I think it can be fair to say that the tributes will continue to flow in for the late Dr Bernard Nottage, one of the most outstanding athletes turned administrator in the history of sports in the country.

The former athlete, turned extraordinaire sporting executive died on Wednesday at the age of 73.

The immediate past Minister of National Security in the Progressive Liberal Party, where he served as the Member of Parliament for Bain and Grants Town, was highly respected in the athletic world.

As a sprinter on the teams that represented the Bahamas - at the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston and the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg.

The highlight of his career, however, came at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where Nottage ran with Norris Stubbs, Kevin Johnson and Thomas Robinson (all deceased) on the men’s 4 x 100m relay team that made it to the semi-final.

They had set a Bahamian national record of 39.45 seconds in the quarter-final that lasted for another 25 years.

Nottage later served as the chairman of the inaugural Carifta Games held in the Bahamas in 1976 and eventually became the president of the BAAA that same year before he was elevated to becoming the first Bahamian president of the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Confederation, serving for two consecutive terms through 1990.

One of his greatest accomplishments in office was in 1987 at the IAAF congress in Rome where he got the membership to adopt the “One Country, One Vote” procedure that has changed the mandate of the sport.

One of his long-time friends and collegiates, Victor Lopez, president of NACAC, issued a profound reflection indicating that: “BJ Nottage was not only a great leader and a great medical doctor but a beloved friend, one that I had a lot of respect and admiration for. He was for me the most influential individual in the development of the region’s athletics movement in the 80s. I used to call him my mentor although I am a bit older than him. Evelyn and I love BJ and will miss him badly.”

We all will in the sporting fraternity, especially track and field. May his soul rest in peace.

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