By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH it was a very dismal year with very little competition staged due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations took the time out to give God thanks.
Normally this time of the year, the BAAA would hold an annual church service, but the pandemic restrictions negated that. So the BAAA decided to stage a prayer vigil inside the original Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
The event took place on Wednesday night following the practice sessions of the athletes who, for the most part, stayed around to receive their blessings.
Along with a praise and worship session, Randy Moss, a coach and father of Wendira Moss, along with Bishop Arnold Josey, a long-time patron, offered prayers on behalf of the association, athletes, coaches, officials, parents and spectators.
“The purpose was to find an alternative to our annual church service,” said BAAA president Drumeco Archer, who spoke to the audience in a setting that was created by former public relations officer Kermit Taylor.
“We wanted the federation to bring (in) our track and field (season) in prayer, as we always do, asking God for his guidance and protection over the athletes and the entire track and field family.”
Notwithstanding the fact that it wasn’t in a church atmosphere, the ambience was one that got everybody in the mood to reflect and give thanks to God. “As a priority for me and the federation, I want to develop wholesome athletes, wholesome individuals, who represent the islands of the Bahamas,” he stressed. “I think we achieved that in this exercise.”
With all that is going on with COVID-19 and the restrictions placed on sporting activities, not only in the country, but around the world, Archer said they want to remember that God is still in control.
“I think we put a lot of emphasis on everything but God. So I just want the track and field community to come out here and remember that with God all things are possible,” he stated.
“I don’t take that lightly. I think in track and field, it’s mind, body and soul. It’s that true essence of the sport. So I want to remind the athletes that as we continue to excel not only on the field of play, but in their classrooms as well, when they put God first, they can do all things.”
Despite the restrictions of having to practice social distance, the BAAA has seen two meets come off successfully, starting with the Odd Distance Track Classic in December and the T-Bird Flyers Track Classic this past Saturday.
Moving forward, it is anticipated that the BAAA will seek to stage at least one meet by their affiliated clubs per month up until May, including the possibility of the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association’s Championships that is still pending.
“I don’t anticipate that there will be any disruption in the competition, although the dates may shuffle a bit,” he said.
“CARIFTA is expected to be much later, presumably in the summer period, so we will have to spread our competition out.
“But I know there is an ongoing discussion we are having with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health with hosting the high school nationals, so we’re hoping that will come off as well,” he added.
As for the two meets staged so far, Archer said he was very pleased with the performances turned in, although there were not that many qualifiers.
But he noted that because the season will be extended, they have athletes to prime at the right time to compete in any international meets being staged. “Although a lot of the performances that I saw were not CARIFTA qualifiers, I see that there is a lot of opportunity for growth,” he said. “So we are grateful to be able to give God thanks the past year and we look forward to this year with great expectations even though we are still dealing with the pandemic.”
While some of the throwers, who have already qualified for CARIFTA, improved on their performances, there were two performances from the T-Bird Flyers Classic that went unnoticed as the curtains came down on the one-day meet.
In the open men’s 5,000 metres, the last event that took place on Saturday, Nathan Duncan of the T-Bird Flyers and Christopher Saintus from the 4D Stallions came through the finish line in 16 minutes and 00.26 seconds to surpass the under-20 boys’ qualifying standard of 16:05.60.
The 2020 CARIFTA Games, which was postponed from last year because of the pandemic, is scheduled for Bermuda, but the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC), the regional body headed by Mike Sands, is looking at pushing the event to summer, rather than the regular Easter holiday weekend.
The BAAA is also watching the development of the postponed 2020 Olympic Games. It was also postponed last year because of the pandemic and has been rescheduled for July 23 to August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.