Following the successful hosting of the first three editions of the International Amateur Athletic Federation’s World Relays, World Athletics’ President Lord Sebastian Coe said he’s delighted to be back to launch the opening of the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) office.
Coe, accompanied by newly elected NACAC President Mike Sands, was on hand yesterday at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium for a trackside chat with local athletes, coaches and officials of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations on the eve of the opening of the office today.
Among those joining the delegation were Willie Banks, former American world triple jump record holder and now an IAAF Council Member, former Cayman Islands’ sprinter Cydonie Mothersill, a NACAC Council Member, immediate past NACAC president Victor Lopez and former Bahamian IAAF Council Woman Pauline Davis-Thompson.
For Coe, who is now in his second term as president of the World Athletics, formerly the IAAF, said he can now be considered a regular visitor to the Bahamas, making a trip here at least once a year.
“It is so comforting as the president of an international sport, just to go to somewhere where the sport that you love and you that trained in and you raced in and you’ve worked in, has such a local passion,” said Coe after he addressed a number of the athletes.
“To see that stadium full of young athletes of every age and every ability and to know that there is such immense talent coming through and our challenge is to make sure that we keep it in the sport and we keep that talent developing under the BAAAs and now with this guy (Sands) helping to develop the future of athletics. We are in great shape and we should never forget that this sport is a great sport.”
In his informal address to the athletes, Coe said he just simply thanked them for choosing to participate in sports and dedicating their evenings to the sport and he further advised them to listen to their coaches, who will play a very important role in their lives in all aspects of life.
As one of the three global sports, football (soccer) and tennis listed as the other two, Coe said track and field is one of the hardest sports to get a global medal because there are so many athletes trying to attain the same goal.
With the Bahamas playing a pivotal role in getting the World Relays from its infancy to the strong roots that it has grown to, Coe said he will be eternally grateful to the Bahamas.
When asked about the possibility of the World Relays returning here after the fourth edition was held last year in Tokyo, Japan, Coe said he would love to see it here again.
“I was hoping when we first came here a few years ago that this would be a permanent fixture (for the World Relays),” Coe said. “I was a politician. I was a minister one time, so I do understand.
“The fans were enthusiastic and noisy and absolutely passionate. This is a country that loves track and field and what’s not to love about that.”
Fast forward to today, Coe said it’s fantastic that his long-time friend is now the president of NACAC and having competed on the international circuit as competitors, they can cement it as administrators as they work together in the World Athletics.
Sands, a former BAAA public relations officer and president, said he’s ecstatic about this day.
“I’m looking forward to the support of the council members and indeed the individual federations,” he said.
“We had a very good day at the council meeting. It was very interactive. We have some plans that we will be sharing, later on, to ensure that our region stays the number one region in terms of performances, so that’s my goal, my objective with the support of the member federations.”
Sands, who replaced Davis-Thompson as a Bahamian on the World Athletics Board, said he’s delighted that Coe has consented to be here and to officially open the NACAC office today at 10am.