GOLDEN MOMENT: From left to right are under-17 girls 4x100 metre relay gold winners Darvinique Dean, Bayli Major, Shayann Demeritte and Jamiah Nabbie.
Photo: Moises Amisial/Tribune Staff
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
As the curtain came down on Team Bahamas’ hosting of the Oaktree Medical Center’s 50th CARIFTA Games at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium on Monday night, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg was delighted to welcome home the five-peat CARIFTA swimming team.
The 39-member swim and open water team came home from Curacao on a chartered flight just in time to take a victory lap before the jammed-packed stadium that cheered loudly behind the rhythmic sound of junkanoo for the impressive second place finish by the 80-member track team.
“My voice tells you about the excitement that I had cheering for these track and field athletes,” said Bowleg during the closing ceremonies as the Bahamas passed the baton on to Grenada for the hosting of the 50th CARIFTA track team in 2024.
“Also, there were times when my director of sports would share with me the live clips from the swimmers in Curacao. I just want to say that the Bahamian people enjoyed the performances of both the CARIFTA track and the swim team and we celebrate with them. We are proud to be Bahamians.”
As the swim team claimed their fifth consecutive title as they completed their competition on Monday morning with the open water swim after the pool competition ended on Sunday, Bahamas Aquatics wanted to know if they will finally get the financial support from the Bahamas Government.
“The mere fact that we decided to host the next CARIFTA Games and give them the respect that they deserve, it tells you that we understand what they are doing,” Bowleg stated.
“We understand that it is a sport that is going places and as an archipelago nation surrounded by water, but together, we are an ocean by ourselves. “We are the best in the pool and they will get to see the necessary upgrades at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex, but we are also looking forward to putting down an Olympic size pool in Grand Bahama to ensure that we will continue the development of swimming in the country.”
In stating that the Bahamas won the two CARIFTA events combined, based on their medal counts, Bowleg said the Bahamas Government salutes the athletes and swimmers just by the presence of Prime Minister Philip Davis and two former PMs Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham and the other dignitaries on hand for the joint celebrations on Monday night.
And while the renovations are ongoing with the repairs at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium as the ninth edition of the Bahamas Games returns in July and the World Relays returns next year, Bowleg revealed that they are going to ensure that the Betty Kelly Kenning Complex is ready for CARIFTA next year during the Easter holiday weekend.
“There needs to be some work done in the pool room down low and they need a new pump and heater systems added,” he pointed out. “We have already started the process of getting those things in there.
“I can assure you that the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex will be a class arena to see next year when we host the CARIFTA swimming. We will have to add extra seating as well because the complex won’t be able to host the people who are expected here next year.”
This will mark the fifth time that the Bahamas will host the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, the last being in 2017. The other times the event was hosted here was in 2001, 2004 and 2012.
In winning this year’s title for the fifth time, Team Bahamas also got two games record breaking performances from Rhanishka Gibbs and Nigel Forbes, along with a few divisional high point awards from Saleste Gibson, David Singh and Skyler Smith.