NACAC president Mike Sands, BAAA president Drumeco Archer, Minister of Social Services Obie Wilchcombe, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg, Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey and Grafton Ifill Jr, government financial advisor.
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
To help restore the “magic” in Grand Bahama, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture announced that the Bahamas’ Sports in Paradise campaign will host the fourth edition of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg made the announcement of the biggest international sporting event to take place in Grand Bahama from August 19-21 at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex.
Minister Mario Bowleg revealed that it was only fitting that with so many events being Nassau-centric heading and during the Bahamas 50th celebrations of Independence next year, they decided to spread out the sports and entertainment activities on various islands. “One thing this administration does not want to do is become Nassau-centric,” Bowleg said. “You will see in a matter of days some of the things that we intend for sports for the length and breadth of the Bahamas.
“Grand Bahama is the second city. We would like to get them back to the magic city and bring the grand back to Grand Bahama. If we don’t do it now, I don’t know when we will do it.”
Bowleg said the NACAC officials, headed by President Mike Sands, have already completed their site inspection in Grand Bahama and work has commenced on ensuring that the Grand Bahama Sports Complex is ready for the championships.
“Not only will the athletes compete in a newly renovated Grand Bahama Sports Complex, but they will be doing so in style on a level two Mondo surface finish that will be recertified.
“The stadium is also being equipped with an electronic timing system and proper lighting to capture the moments.”
Ginger Moxey, the Minister for Grand Bahama, said it’s only fitting that they get to stage the championships in Grand Bahama as they continue their bid to “recovering, rebuilding and revoluting their communities” in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19.
“We are very excited about what’s in store for Grand Bahama and, what it means to our people and what it makes to sports development in the Bahamas,” she said.
“I know that the entire community is thrilled by it and it’s the beginning. In our blueprint for change,
we said we will have a 52-week calendar event, and this is one of those events that we will be hosting and we look for Grand Bahama to have at least half of these events since we are the events and entertainment destination of the Bahamas.”
Obie Wilchcombe, the Minister of Social Services, thanked Bowleg and Sands for what they are doing for Grand Bahama.
And in light of the 50th anniversary celebrations, they have agreed to stage it under the patronage of the late Anita Doherty, a pioneer in sporting activities on the island.
Bowleg also announced that Lord Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, formerly the International Amateur Athletic Federation, will be heading a host of dignitaries for the event.
Olympic men and women 400 metre champions Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo have been confirmed to lead the Bahamian athletes at the championships, along with Anthonique Strachan, Devynne Charlton and Donald Thomas.
Athletes representing more than 36 member federations or countries are expected to start arriving in Grand Bahama for the event from August 15 as they bring some economic boost to the island.
As the leading athletic federation in World Athletics, Sands called it a red-letter day for the sport of athletics in the country and, indeed the region, including the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and three associates - Central American countries Suriname, Guyana, and French Guyana.
“In no other sport has the Bahamas been so successful at the level of the prestigious Olympic Games and the international federation’s World Championships, thanks to the NACAC area athletes, our coaches, our technical officials and our administrators.”
Sands thanked the Bahamas Government for their continued support in assisting in the hosting of more than 300 athletes and officials.
He also thanked the Grand Bahama Amateur Athletic Association for the leading role they are playing in making the event possible.
Norris Bain serves as the deputy director and manager of the Local Organising Committee in Grand Bahama with Perez Cooper as the chairman.
“I always considered Grand Bahama to be the sporting capital of the Bahamas,” Archer said.
“As the Bahamas always argues that we are the best sporting country in the world per capita, the same can be said about Grand Bahama and its success in sports.