By BRENT STUBBS
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE 2018 Flow CARIFTA Games is fast approaching and the focus right now is on getting athletes to attain the qualifying standards, although it doesn’t automatically name them to the team that will represent the Bahamas at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium over the Easter holiday weekend.
So far, there are just about a dozen athletes who have surpassed the qualifying standards, which the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations uses as their measuring stick in selecting its team once the athletes would have competed in the final trials.
The good thing for the Bahamas is that the North American and Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) decided to amend the age groups to revert to the under-17 and under-20 divisions from the under-18 and under-20 contested since 2013. What this means is that there are more younger athletes, starting at 13, who are eligible to compete.
The BAAA has benefited from the move as at least two athletes, who would have qualified last year, but could not compete because of the age limitation, have already qualified.
Versatile Jaide Knowles and Anthaya Charlton, both members of the Star Trackers Track Club, have surpassed the qualifying standards for the under-17 girls 100 metres at a meet they attended in Kingston, Jamaica, over the weekend.
Here at home, another young athlete, Shaunece Miller - the younger sister of Olympic champion Shaunae Miller - also qualified along with five other athletes at the Roadrunners Track and Field Meet at the original Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
There are at least two more major meets, including Club Monica this weekend and the Star Trackers over the weekend of February 3, coupled with both the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) from February 14-17 and Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) from February 28 to March 1 before the final trials are held from March 16-17.
That’s roughly seven weeks before the team is selected so hopefully, over the remaining meets, the performances will be improved and more athletes will attain the standards. Before we know it, the CARIFTA Games will be here over the Easter holiday weekend, March 30-April 2.
The BAAA has opened its ticket offices and according to the Local Organising Committee, they want to encourage the Bahamian public to come out and get their tickets and not wait until the last minute as they could lose out in securing their best seats in the stadium as many of the anticipated 26 visiting countries are making their purchases.
It would be disheartening to the colours of the other countries in the stands and as the host, the Bahamas is not fully represented.
The LOC also introduced Iggy, the CARIFTA mascot, during a special assembly on Wednesday at Yellow Elder Primary School. Over the next few weeks, they intend to take the iguana to more of the schools in their promotions to draw up the support. Hopefully, the students will be receptive, but their ticket sales could be contingent on their parents making the purchases.
It’s a pity that the games will take place during the break from school. Otherwise, the LOC could have offered a package deal where the schools got tickets and for every one they sell, they get a percentage that could go towards their athletic programme. Maybe, it could still be done so they can try to attract as much of the students to attend as possible. Not only do we need the stadium full, but we need the athletes to perform up to standard with their peers. So there’s still a lot more work to be done in the lead up to the games.
Support for Rolle
I know by the time you read this, she probably would have completed her second round in the 2018 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Golf Club on Paradise Island.
But as the only player exempted to represent the Bahamas in the four-day tournament, I would have expected to see more Bahamians on the sidelines cheering her on. This is her fifth time in the history of the six-year tournament that Rolle has secured the exemption card to represent the country.
With the tournament in her backyard, it would have been more encouraging for her to have seen more Bahamians rooting for her.
Yes, the $1.4 million tournament brings a high level of competition as the majority of the top players in the world are competing to advance to the final two days of competition. It would have been good for Rolle to have had a little more support trying to help her finally get over the hump.
Today is critical for her. But whether she advances or not, we have to tip our hats because it’s not easy for a player, who has so many other commitments, including serving as secretary general of the Bahamas Golf Federation, as well as an assistant pro at Baha Mar and instructing the future generation of golfers in her Fourteen Clubs Academy, who play golf year round.
Maybe the time should come where Rolle and maybe even Racquel Riley are given the kind of financial support that they need to go out on the tour and play in a few tournaments, even if they are just in the United States, to be able to hone their skills before the tournament comes back to our shores next year.
Again, this is another opportunity where the enormous Bahamian talent is on display, but yet there is not enough being done financially to get the maximum out of our players.
I’m sure that Rolle could have done better if she had a little more support on the sidelines and in getting to compete with her peers elsewhere in other major tournaments.