By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WHILE making a donation of $275,000 to the IAAF/BTC World Relays, BTC Chief Executive Officer Leon Williams said they continue to be the title sponsor for as long as the event is held in the Bahamas.
Williams made the announcement yesterday during a press conference to present the Local Organising Committee with their cheque for the third version of the IAAF/BTC World Relays, scheduled for April 22-23.
The remarks came in response to the LOC’s CEO Rosamunde Carey, who indicated on behalf of LOC chairman Keith Parker that they would be bidding to host the 2021 and 2023 World Relays to ensure that the Bahamas remains the home of the event.
In addition to the presentation to the IAAF/BTC World Relays, BTC also made a $90,000 presentation to the Bahamas Swimming Federation for the hosting of the BTC CARIFTA Swimming Championships and $20,000 to the Bahamas Amateur Athletic Federation for their travel to Curacao for the CARIFTA Games.
“BTC continues to demonstrate that we are truly committed to nation building through corporate citizenship,” said Williams in what they called a “blue letter day.”
“In fact, we can boast that we are the unrivalled national leader in community support. BTC continues to demonstrate to our youth, and we’ve proven that once you can dream it, BTC will provide the funding to ensure that you achieve it.”
Williams said BTC has been in the trenches for years with the sporting communities, even in instances when no other corporate sponsors were willing to support the athletes and associations/federations.
“We have seen the value of our commitment over the years embodied in the many successes of our athletes,” said Williams, noting that they have supported Olympians Shaunae Miller, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Ramon Miller and Demetrius Pinder.
“BTC has for a long time been committed to sports and some of our other noteworthy contributions to sports include the High School Nationals, the Basketball Federation, Flag Football and the Bahamas Softball Association.”
Williams said their customers from all over the country will be able to view all of the events, including the World Relays and Carifta, live on Flow television and on Flow to Go as their marketing team will be revamping their mobile offers to provide limitless offers and advantages.
“So to our prepaid, postpaid and business customers, we ask you to stay tuned for the limitless possibilities to come,” he stressed.
Carey said the success of any venture of this magnitude is the partnership of corporate sponsors and they are delighted that BTC has once again consented to be the sponsor of the IAAF World Relays.
“We are so excited, we are so full of enthusiasm that we can’t contain it,” Carey said. “We just completed over the weekend, the best Test Event that we’ve ever had to date.”
Carey said not only are they excited, but the IAAF has already branded next month’s IAAF World Relays as the best ever with a record 700-plus athletes from 42 countries with more than 300 officials participating.
Carey said if fans missed the running of the Mixed Relays on Sunday that concluded the Test Event for the High Schools, they should not miss watching the male runners compete against the females in the grand finale at the IAAF/BTC World Relays.
She noted that Jamaican double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson has already indicated that she’s looking forward to coming to the Bahamas to compete in the event.
As for the sponsorship from BTC, Carey said their core values resonated with the ideals of the IAAF and so it was a perfect fit for the two to emerge together.
“I’ve been instructed to say to you by my chairman Mr Keith Parker that we want BTC must sign very early for 2019 edition,” she told Williams. “Your partnership of this event, Mr Williams, shows that BTC understand that the funding of this event will have a positive impact in our communities and our athletes.”
CARIFTA SWIMMING SPONSORSHIP
The $90,000 investment by BTC to the BSF for the BTC 2017 Carifta Swim Games is a part of their four-year commitment to the BSF, according to Williams.
BSF president Algernon Cargill said the past two-plus years of the financial agreement with BTC has provided the majority of funding required for the successful Carifta Championships.
After winning the title for two years in 2014-15, the Bahamas lost the title in 2016 to Guadeloupe in Martinique and will be back to regain the crown here over the Easter holiday weekend.
The hosting of Carifta comes on the heels of BTC’s sponsorship of the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships (CISC) last year here and Cargill said it would be a tall order to duplicate the feat at Carifta.
“It was not easy getting to this point, but with BTC’s financial support, we are poised to represent the Bahamas at a very high standard and make you very proud of our sponsorship,” Cargill said.
A 36-member team, coached by Travano McPhee and Jorge Rodriquez, will represent the Bahamas in swimming. Andy Loveitt will coach 12 competitors in the open water swim and Laszio Borberly will coach the 20-member water polo team.
The swimming competition will start on Saturday, April 15 at 9 am and continue with the evening session at 6 pm at the Betty Kelly Swim Complex. The competition will continue on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, April 16-18 at the same times.
The open water competition, covering a 5-kilometre course, will be held on Long Wharf Beach on Wednesday, April 19 at 8 am. The water polo championships will take place from April 7-9 at the BKKSC where the Bahamas will be out to win the title for the first time.
CARIFTA TRACK TEAM
Williams said BTC is making a $20,000 investment in the Carifta Track and Field, which again is a part of a longer-term commitment with Carifta.
BAAA’s public relations officer Philip Gray said BTC’s commitment allow both their junior and senior athletes to compete on the international stage.
“We are happy that BTC is the title sponsor for the Carifta Games this year once again,” he said. “They have been most gracious and generous to the federation this year as they have in previous years.
The BTC Carifta trials is scheduled for March 31-April 1 to qualify for the team that will travel to Curacao to compete in the games starting on April 11.
“It is a significant time because at congress this year, a team of us will present and show that the Bahamas is indeed the place to be if you want to have any significant track and field event,” said Gray, of the Bahamas hosting the Carifta Games in 2018.
On their return from Curacao, Gray said many of the executives from the IAAF, including president Lord Sebastian Coe, would be coming here for the IAAF/BTC World Relays.
“BTC, we thank you once again for being so gracious to the federation and we pray that we continue the relationship that we enjoy,” he summed up.