By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE Bahamas 2021 General Election on Thursday, September 16 will have candidates running for the various constituencies from all walks of life.
There are many former and current athletes, officials and executives that have put their names in the political fray, but the question for once the votes are in and counted, is will sports get its just due from those elected to power?
Over the years, there have been persons with sporting backgrounds who have been placed in the role of Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, but it appears that very little is done on a consistent basis to advance the growth and development of athletes.
As we continue to linger through the COVID-19 era, it will be vital for the government elected to appoint a minister who can thrust the sports agenda forward in Cabinet to get sporting programmes off the ground and running again.
Sporting leaders have been crying out for a national forum where they can come together and voice their sentiments on sports and the way forward.
So while it’s too early to speculate who could and should be the new Minister of Sports with the elections still a week away, let’s take a look at the list of some of the more prominent sporting personalities whose names are on the dotted lines for their constituencies.
• Free National Movement
Deputy Prime Minister Desmond Bannister, the current Member of Parliament for Carmichael, is a former middle distance runner, who moved into the top of the sport of track and field where he served previously as the president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations and the legal advisor for the Bahamas Football Association.
Current Minister of Sports, Iram Lewis, is seeking another term as the Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama. The Grand Bahamian native is a two-time Olympic track and field sprinter, who also served as a vice president for both the BAAA and the Bahamas Olympic Committee.
Minister of Health Renward Lewis, seeking to be re-elected in Bamboo Town, is also an Olympic sprinter, who competed along with Lewis on the local and international scene. He also held the Bahamas national records in the 60m and 100m.
Shanendon Cartwright, the MP for St Barnabas, had a promising career as one of the top junior basketball players. But after returning from college, he never excelled to the senior level as one of the potential national team players.
Drumeco Archer, the candidate for Fort Charlotte, is also a former sprinter who represented The Bahamas at both the Carifta Games and the Junior Central American and Caribbean Championships and is the current president of the BAAA.
Felicia Knowles, running for the constituency of Cat Island, Rum Cay and Salvador, hails from the field of basketball and netball. She was a former national team player and an executive of the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association.
Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, running for Exuma and Ragged Island, was one of the country’s most versatile athletes, having played volleyball, softball, netball, field hockey and a little bit of basketball. She also represented the country as a national team player in a number of those disciplines.
John Pinder, like Isaacs-Dotson who come from the Labour Movement, he is running for Fox Hill where he was standout basketball player in both the park league and for the Saints in the New Providence Basketball Association. He also ventured into football where he played in the Commonwealth American Football League.
• Progressive Liberal Party
Obie Wilchcombe, back in his bid to regain the seat of West Grand Bahama & Bimini, is a former quarterback in the CAFL, of which he also served as a president. He is also a former president of the Grand Bahama Basketball Association.
Coming over from the FNM as the MP for Golden Isles, Eleuthera native Vaugh Miller will be seeking to be re-elected as a PLP candidate. He is a former outstanding basketball player for the Beck’s Cougars in the NPBA.
An array of newcomers
Mario Bowleg, the candidate for Garden Hills, is also a former basketball player, who emerged as a championship coach with the CC Sweeting Cobras in the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association and the NPWBA. He is the current president of the Bahamas Basketball Federation and a head and assistant coach on the men’s national basketball team.
Grand Bahamian native Wayde Watson is seeking the seat of Bains Town & Grants Town. He is a former basketball player, who has established himself as one of the top coaches, winning championship titles in the Bahamas Government Departmental Basketball Association; the NPBA and the NPWBA. He was also an assistant coach for the BBF’s national team.
As the candidate for South Beach, Bacchus Rolle is a versatile basketball/baseball/softball player, who now holds the position as the head coach of the University of the Bahamas Mingoes men’s basketball team.
Ronald Duncombe, the candidate for Killarney, has enjoyed a successful run as a former volleyball player in the New Providence Volleyball Association with the champions, Beck’s Condors, and the Intruders in his prime.
Grand Bahamian native Curt Hollingsworth is running for Marco City. Before he ventured into politics, he played basketball and participated in track and field. But he’s known for his role as a high school coach in Grand Bahama and New Providence as well as serving as an interim president of the BAAA.
Jamahl Strachan, running for Nassau Village, competed in track and field as a hurdler and pole vaulter, and represented the Bahamas as a member of the Carifta team.
Coming in as the candidate for North Andros and the Berry Islands, Leonardo Lightbourne’s claim to fame was in basketball where he excelled as a member of the men’s national basketball team and professional player, who took his talents throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.
Christopher Saunders, the candidate for St Anne’s, is a noted journalist from both the print and electronic media. He was a former swimmer, who emerged as one of the country’s certified basketball referees and an internationally certified statistician and table official.