By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
BY Tuesday, former Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations president and public relations officer Mike Sands will know whether or not he will become the fifth president of the North America, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association.
Sands will be one of five persons vying for the post, currently held by Victor Lopez, when the NACAC electoral process takes place in Queretaro, Mexico, prior to the start of the Under-18 and Under-23 Championships, scheduled for July 5-7.
With the endorsement from the BAAA, Sands will be vying for votes from the 31 active memberships in the region, inclusive of Canada, North America, Central America and the Caribbean. "I'm excited about the process. I've been working diligently visiting a number of those member associations as well," said Sands, who left for Mexico on Saturday and will celebrate his birthday today during the NACAC Congress.
If elected, Sands will also take a seat on the International Amateur Athletic Federation's board as the area representative.
It would also mean that Pauline Davis-Thnmpson's bid to remain on the IAAF Board could be in jeopardy as it's hard to have two members from on country elected in the same year.
The IAAF will go to the polls to select its new administration during its congress in September in Doha, Qatar, just before the start of the IAAF World Championships, scheduled for September 27 to October 6.
Like Davis-Thompson's campaign to secure her first IAAF election spot in 2007, Sands said his came with a hefty price, but it has been worth it so far.
"It was very taxing financially. With the support of corporate Bahamas along with my personal funds, we were able to reach this far," Sands said.
"We are at the finish line, so there's no stopping right now. The finances are still a challenge, but notwithstanding that I am grateful to several persons who came forth and assisted with this venture along with my finances."
When you want something and you want it bad enough, Sands said one should not have to worry about the obstacles that stand in his way. He just has to keep his eyes on the prize and prepare for the finish line. "Fortunately for me, I'm familiar with the vast majority of the member federations, obviously with my sting in the BAAA and my involvement in the sport over the many years," Sands said.
"So the campaign was very easy. It's a question of choices now for the member federations. Incidentally there are five candidates vying for this position with 31 votes. It's myself, Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago."
Sands, however, said all of the candidates are friends, but he has asked the voting delegates to look at the candidates and what they have to offer. If they do, he's confident that his record will speak for itself.
"Hopefully come July 2, I would be your area president for NACAC," he projected.
If elected, Sands said it's his goal to ensure that NACAC becomes one of the most successful areas in the IAAF Family as the organisation is on the verge of a transformation and NACAC has to follow suit.
"One of the first things that I would like to do is to do an assessment of each member federation and that assessment would take the place of what I would call a spot analysis," he pointed out.
"The intent is to sit with each member federation and to give them the time and attention that they need so that we can build the area federation by federation. Once we can sit down with them and identify the areas, we can build a strong region."
With the headquarters based in Puerto Rico where outgoing president Victor Lopez resided, if elected, Sands said there is a strong possibility that the headquarters could be moved to the Bahamas.
And with little background in Spanish, Sands said he knows it will be a challenge working with the Spanish-speaking countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Belize.
But having travelled to all of those countries, he said they will address the issue so that they can communicate effectively with those countries.
However, he said Jamaica's Teddy McCook, who served as president prior to Lopez, had no Spanish background, but he was very effective and he was highly regarded in those areas.
When NACAC gave birth in 1988, Amadeo Francis of Puerto Rico served as the inaugural president. He was re-elected in 1999 and occupied the chair until 2007.
That year, Neville "Teddy" McCook of Jamaica was elected as new president. McCook was re-elected and served up to the time of his death on February 11, 2013.
In the interim, Alain Jean-Pierre of Haiti, who was the treasurer at the time and president of the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Confederation (CACAC), filled in.
Then on August 7, 2013, Lopez was elected as the new president, serving until 2015. He was also president of the Association of Panamerican Athletics (APA). He goes into the NACAC elections as the outgoing president.