Top athletes in spotlight for National Sports Heritage Month

WITH sports taking on a new look due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has made some changes to its National Sports Heritage Month.

Normally during the month of November, the MOYSC culminates a series of activities with the induction of the new class into the National Hall of Fame and an awards banquet to honour the most outstanding athletes of the year.

Timothy Munnings, the director of sports in the MOYSC, revealed that all that will change this year as the focus will be placed on a series of virtual activities that will highlight the performances of some of the top athletes this year. “This year will be like others for sports. A lot of the stuff that the Ministry of Sports will do for sports will be virtual because of the ongoing pandemic,” said Munnings, who joined sports around the world in March when the virus first broke.

“But sports are strong, despite the challenges that we face. So we will be highlighting some of the accomplishments of some of our current athletes where, in some jurisdictions, activities are not as strict or they are open.”

All six athletes, who have qualified for the postponed 2020 Olympic Games next year in Tokyo, Japan, including sprinters Samson Colebrooke and Tynia Gaither, quarter-milers Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo and high jumpers Jamal Wilson and Donald Thomas, will be among those highlighted.

So will equestrian Ana Camille ‘Millie’ Vlasov and her horse, Beaumont, who were successful in securing a hat trick with three victories at the Jumping du Golfe St Tropez Hubside 1* Equestrian competition in St Tropez, France in September.

Additionally, Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm, who became the seventh Bahamian to play in Major League Baseball with the Miami Marlins; National Basketball Association players Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and Deandre Ayton, whose teams Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns respectivelymade a run for the playoffs in the bubble in Orlando, Florida; and Rashad Fenton, who played on the National Football League’s championship Cincinnati Bengals’ team.

Munnings said they will also honour Tureano ‘Reno’ Johnson, whose bid for the World Boxing Organisation’s Inter-Continental middleweight title was thwarted by Mexican Jaime Munguia at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California at the end of September when the fight was stopped at the end of the sixth round after Johnson suffered a cut on his lip that required surgery immediately after the fight.

“He had a really good showing, leading up to that point we’re told, but unfortunately, due to a cut on his lip, the fight was stopped,” Munnings said. “So we want to encourage him and to let him know that he is still our champion.”

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Golden Girls - Savatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis-Thompson, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Eldece Clarke - winning the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia in the women’s 4 x 100 metre relay.

“We can’t forget them,” said Munnings, who was on the men’s 4 x 400m relay team that clinched the bronze at the same Olympics, along with competing on the gold medal team at the 2001 World Championship team in Edmonton, Canada, and the bronze medal team at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 in Manchester, England.

During the month of virtual activities, Munnings said the MOYSC will highlight the performances of the athletes in a series of videos seen on television, as well as the trailblazing performances from athletes such as the late Tommy Robinson in track and field and Andre Rodgers in baseball.

“We will be interviewing federations and associations about how they are adopting with their sports and what’s the way forward for them in this new normal for sports around the world,” Munnings said.

“We will also be engaging some of our physical fitness experts like Natasha Brown to provide some fitness tips on ZNS and social media on how they can stay physically fit in this pandemic.”

Unlike in previous years, Munnings said the MOYSC will not be giving out any awards as is done traditionally at the year-end awards celebrations, nor will they have an induction ceremony into the National Hall of Fame.

“We will just be highlighting them to let them know that we see them and we recognise their braveness in competing in this atmosphere,” charged Munnings, with the limited amount of sporting events staged this year.

“Next year, with this pandemic coming under control with the number of infections declining, we hope to have a combined ceremony where we will have the class of 2020 and 2021 combined in one big ceremony.”


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