THE FINISH LINE: XXI Commonwealth Games ‘should have taught us some valuable lessons’


Brent Stubbs


Senior Sports Reporter


THE recent staging of the XXI Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, should have taught us some valuable lessons.

Firstly, it’s not just enough that we have the sand, sun and sea as a selling tool to our archipelago. The Gold Coast had plenty of that and more. It was hot and humid and there was sufficient sand and sea to satisfy any visitor’s fantasy to one of the biggest touristic destinations in the country.

Secondly, we hosted the Youth Commonwealth Games last July, but even though this was on a much larger scale, catering to the elite athletes from more than 70 countries, the Australians pulled out all of the stops to ensure that these were the best games ever held. It was the 13th time, the most by any country, that the second biggest games in the world went ‘Down Under’ in Australia.

Thirdly, the games took on a new dimension in the Gold Coast with an increase of 45 per cent more athletes and 73 per cent more medals compared to the para-sport competition staged at the last games in 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Athletics, including the marathon, swimming, lawn bowls, power-lifting, track cycling, table tennis and triathlon went above and beyond to accommodate the 300 para-athletes in 38 medal events.

Birmingham, England will have a hard act to follow from July 27 to August 7, 2022 when the 22nd version of the games are set to be staged.

But for now, the Bahamas joins in the chorus in saluting the Gold Coast for a job well done, even the games were held rather early than usual for the majority of the athletes competing in track and field, considering that it’s right on the heels of the completion of the indoor season and the start of outdoors.

Despite that, the spotlight was shone on several athletes in what turned out to be the country’s greatest accomplishment across the board. The Bahamas finished 21st on the medal table with one gold and three silver behind Northern Ireland (with one gold, seven silver and four bronze) and just ahead of Papua New Guinea (with two gold and three bronze). As hosts, Australia dominated with 89 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze for a total of 198.

All-time in the 15 games the Bahamas has participated, that pushed the numbers to 10 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze for a total of 36 medals for 20th place on the list behind Trinidad & Tobago with 56 (10 gold, 21 silver and 35 bronze) and ahead of Cameroon with 37 (10 gold, 11 silver and 16 bronze). Australia tops the chart with 2416 (932 gold, 775 silver and 709 bronze).

All of the Bahamas’ medals came from the athletic competition with Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s gold in the women’s 200m, Jamal Wilson’s silver in the men’s high jump, Jeffery Gibson’s silver in the men’s 400m hurdles and the men’s 4 x 400m relay team of Ojay Ferguson, Stephen Gardiner, Teray Smith and Alonzo Russell (with Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller running the semifinal) getting the other silver.

That placed the Bahamas 13th on the list behind Trinidad & Tobago with two gold and ahead of India with one gold, one silver and one bronze. For their effort, Australia marched out front with 13 gold, 13 silver and 0 bronze for their total of 36 medals with Jamaica right on their trail with 25 medals (seven gold, eight silver and 10 bronze).

The swimmers came close to getting on the podium from Joanna Evans, who obviously was visibly upset over some technical issues that she had to deal with. Take it away and her fourth place in the women’s 400m freestyle could have easily been turned into a trip on the podium for the flag carrier during the opening ceremonies.

The other three members of the team were not at full strength as N’Nhyn Fernander had to be quarantined and bed ridden with Influenzavirus B after competing in just one of his three events. And if that wasn’t enough, the medical staff, led by Dr Rickey Davis, was kept busy trying to help Izaak Bastian and Lilly Higgs fight off the flu bug they arrived in the Gold Coast with from their trip from Kingston, Jamaica.It was just a miracle that in the short space of time that they had to recover from the jet lag, having reported directly from the CARIFTA Games to such a high-powered level meet where the competition was extremely fierce that they got to compete at all.

Bastian did make it back for a second swim in one of his events, which was a plus.

But imagine what a difference it would have been if they had skipped CARIFTA and just concentrated on the Commonwealth Games.

The other disciplines for Team Bahamas didn’t go so well as the competitors needed a little more experience to compete at that level.

Cyclists Jay Major Jr and Anthony ‘Biggie’ Colebrook got lapped on the course and had to be pulled, like many others, boxers Carl Hield and Rashield Williams struggled to get out of the first round, wrestlers Sean Wrinkle and Rashji Mackey gave it a gallant effort in their openers, Cameron Roach did his best in the triathlete and Adrian Rollins padded it out in table tennis, but didn’t advance.

For the majority of the latter competitors, this was an opportunity to get some much-needed exposure to help in the development of their sport. Hopefully with the experience gained, they can continue to push the sport forward and in four years, the Bahamas could be much better represented at the games in Birmingham.

And it’s obvious that if there is going to be any improvement in these sports, our athletes will have to be given the opportunity to travel and compete in more international competitions prior to the games because with little or no competition here at home, there’s really no way to judge their level of participation. I commend the Bahamas Olympic Committee for wanting to give more exposure to as many of the smaller sports outside of athletics and swimming. But even those two major sporting bodies realised that the games are no walk in the park. It’s a higher level of competition.

These games are the second biggest in the world, sitting just outside of the Olympic Games. And in most cases, the biggest difference was the absence of the United States of America, Cuba and Russia, who are some of the formidable forces when it comes to international sports.

So by no stretch of imagination were the games an easy one for Team Bahamas. The track and field athletes, with the exception of those that didn’t win a medal, realise that even thought they felt it was too early in the season, their peers, especially those in Europe, Asia and Africa, were well-poised, polished and ready to compete.

But when a small nation such as the Bahamas can walk away with four medals, it shows that we have the potential to compete with any and everybody on the world stage. It was so good to hear the national anthem played once again and to see the gold, aquamarine and black flag raised four times during the medal presentations.

March on Bahamaland.


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