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There are no exact statistics to determine the best sports nation per capita. However, comparisons are made between the success rates of small nations and the larger ones.
In this regard because of the high volume of top world performances by Bahamian athletes in various sporting disciplines, around the world, this country has largely been considered the mightiest little nation.
That acceptance has been a source of pride for Bahamians. The athletes, the coaches/trainers, we sports administrators, have always been able to challenge our peers to compare the population numbers and accordingly force the acknowledgment that yes, The Bahamas is the best per capita.
Now though, it's time for a reality check.
There is a new per capita kid on the block, St. Kitts and Nevis.
Bahamians were focused on the recent International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) 13th World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. The Bahamas under-performed. Yes we did.
We got the one medal, Trevor Barry's high jump bronze and even if everything else had gone well, we might not have added another.
For instance, in the high jump, if former world champion Donald Thomas had actually cleared 2.25 and gone on to match Barry at 2.32 and not go higher, the bronze still would have gone only to the jumper with the least amount of knockdowns. That would have been Barry.
Leevan Sands's personal best, or something close would have been necessary for him to reach the podium. His best is 17.59 and he was able to muster just a best of 17.21 meters in Daegu. An effort of 17.50 got the bronze behind 17.96 and 17.77, respectively, for gold and silver.
If Chris Brown, Ramon Miller and Demetrius Pinder had all made the 400 meters final, they might not have been successful with medals.
A similar scenario prevails for others. In general two medals would have been on par for us. So yes, it's not about the amount of medals won. It's how we looked as a national team.
We didn't look sharp. We didn't look like that little country that was going to seize any opportunity it got.
It was St. Kitts and Nevis that had that eye of the tiger.
Led by Kim Collins, the little Caribbean nation captured two bronze medals. Collins the 35-year-old veteran elite was third in the 100 final and he inspired Jason Rogers, Antoine Adams and Brijesh Lawrence to third place in the sprint relay.
They ran 38.49 for the bronze. Earlier they had established a national mark of 38.47 in their heat. (Our national men's sprint record is 38.98).
Collins, the face of St. Kitts/Nevis sports, has had an exceptional career. Their styles are different, but he reminds me of our very own Tommie Robinson. They are both quiet, quality role models. Collins has a best for the 100 of 9.98 and is still right there with the very best after nearly 20 years on the world stage.
He and his athletic associates in St. Kitts/Nevis are bringing positive world attention to the little country that has snatched the title of best per capita in track and field from The Bahamas.
Here at home, it's reality check time.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
There's something radiating from the courts of C.I. Gibson Gymnasium; it's ricocheting off the backboards, bouncing on the floors and walls, and streaking through hoops and social divisions. It may be a basketball in substance and form, but, for the campers at Basketball Smiles, it stands for much more.
Since 1999, Coach Sam Nichols, of McMurry University, Texas, and local Coach Patty Johnson, of H.O. Nash Junior High School, have committed themselves to sharing their knowledge, motivation and love for the game with Bahamian students and coaches alike. Working together, the basketball aficionados came up with the blueprint of an annual camp that is offered free of charge to hundreds of participants and is now known as the Basketball Smiles program.
"(Patty) approached me and asked if I would come (to The Bahamas) and do a camp for the kids and a clinic for the coaches," said Nichols. "Patty had wanted to attend a basketball camp when she was younger, but didn't have the $25 enrolment fee. She vowed that if one day she ever had a camp, no child would have to pay to attend it. I told her that I would be there."
The week-long camp takes place after the end of each academic year. Serving Nassau's inner-city students, it provides a structured four-day program for male and female players of both primary and secondary schools. In the same week, Nichols holds a coaching clinic for Bahamian coaches who are interested in expanding and sharing their skills with Texas-based counterparts.
Over the past 13 years, the number of participants has expanded from 85 to 400, drawing the interest of both Texan and Bahamian supporters and trainers. Its steady progress has not gone unnoticed by the Lyford Cay Foundation, which assisted in furthering the vision of hopeful players and coaches by making a donation of $8,700.
The gift was used to provide food and water, T-shirts, playing shorts and socks, trophies and equipment. Nichols and his colleagues also applied the funds toward the purchase of educational materials that students and teachers at H.O. Nash Junior High School can enjoy year-round.
"This year was probably our most successful year," said Randy Thompson, Basketball Smiles' Vice President of Operations. "We were given the capacity to do so much more; we were able to provide a daily meal for the kids, which, for some of those children, would be their only meal that day. We had the best staff we've ever brought with us."
"Our coaches are responsible for funding their own travel and lodging expenses, which can be considerable, and the grant gave us the freedom to use some of our money to help more coaches come over," Nichols explained.
Suzy Robinson, Co-Chair of the Lyford Cay Foundation's Gifts and Grants Committee, lauded the organizers' ideals and devotion.
"We are extremely fortunate to have such experienced coaches volunteer their personal time and money to enrich the lives of children in The Bahamas," she said. "They provide a unique program which is fun for the participants but still focuses on education and developing personal skills and community values, and we have taken great pleasure in supporting them."
Nichols has more than three decades' worth of experience in high school and collegiate coaching. He has been inducted into the Women's Basketball Coaches Association 600 Victory Club and been named the all-time winningest women's basketball coach at McMurry University. As such, he knows all about the importance of developing strong coach/player relationships.
"I learnt 30 years ago how crucial it is to know your players," he said. "One of the most vital components of our camp is teaching life skills like citizenship, values, and academic and moral responsibilities. We try to focus on daily goals and on using the skills campers have learnt in their groups in the actual games."
The Basketball Smiles organizers have high hopes for their campers, looking forward to their success in the classroom and on the court.
"One of our girls this year has been awarded a scholarship to a college-prep school in the U.S.; she has been at every camp since I can remember," said Thompson. "We see that happen a lot. We see kids get scholarships which are based on academics and which have nothing to do with sports, but we feel like we've played a part in making a difference in some of those children's lives."
Olympic gold medalist Chris 'The Fireman' Brown may have one of the fastest gaits in the world but it took him a long time to get where he wanted to go.
"It's been a long, long journey, 17 years," said Brown, "exactly half my life."
It was half his life devoted to the goal that millions around the world saw him achieve. On the tallest rise of the podium at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, flanked by teammates Ramon Miller, Michael Mathieu and Demetrius Pinder, the four men who just proved they were the fastest feet in the fleet, the team who won gold in the men's 4x400 meters (m) relay by a third of a second, wowed commentators, broke a 60-year American winning streak, Brown soaked in the moment of a lifetime. Wearing the national colors of black, gold and aquamarine, and listening to the moving words and music of the Bahamian National Anthem, Chris 'The Fireman' Brown was at the top of his life. He fought back tears, emotion so raw it was open for the world to see, but he barely took time to gloat.
The race had just begun. 'The Fireman' was planning ahead. Inspired, he wanted to host the first invitational track event on the country's new track, part of the new $30 million Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in The Bahamas. Some scoffed, calling it too ambitious. Brown was determined. Holding the meet would cost more than $500,000. He didn't have that kind of money. Here was a runner with not just Olympic gold but a string of medals, including world championships, struggling to keep up with the cost of vitamins and training and plans that cost more money than he had ever seen. The Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational is only the beginning. The following year, 2014, The Bahamas is set to host the first International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) track event of its kind in the history of the sport - a relay meet. Brown knows the world's best relay teams will be competing in sprints, mid and long-distance runs, no shot put or javelin or high jump or single man races, no other events detracting from the one track event that requires speed, stamina, agility, timing and that extra something - a spirit of connection allowing one runner to hand off the baton to the next so seamlessly that it is if they were one.
In between there would be a season of training and meets that would start in the United States and end in August at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, each important for overall rankings and contracts, critical for contracts and sponsorships for Brown and the 'Golden Knights' who are still awaiting the deed to the piece of land they are to receive, four heroes scraping to make ends meet. Farther out, but never far from Brown's mind, the 2016 Summer Olympics. He will be 36 at the 2016 games.
Brown had a lot on his mind, more on his plate, not to mention his personal priorities - a wife and two small children.
It is a few minutes past seven on a Thursday morning at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau and the man who had just been voted the most consistent runner in the history of the sport was running late for a speaking engagement. At the podium, Rotarians from the Sunrise Club of Nassau were extending announcements, prolonging jokes. Members who knew Chris 'The Fireman' Brown was supposed to be there by now were checking watches, e-mail on smartphones, fidgeting. In he came. Apologizing but looking so surprised that all these business people were there to see him.
The apology was accepted instantly. It was April 11, 2013, two days before the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational that yes, he had managed to raise money for. A total of 105 athletes from around the world were descending upon New Providence along with coaches, trainers, families, supporters, medical personnel. He was really managing to pull it off, but he had no idea that being host meant he would be up most of the night before and early that morning taking care of personal requests - change my room, I thought it had a view of the sea - dozens of requests and questions to be answered. From the audience came loud and unsolicited offers to volunteer, all from women, smiling. Brown thanked them and gave a huge thanks to the support team of volunteers from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, which, along with the Ministry of Tourism, had helped fund and make the invitational meet possible.
Then he got down to business, letting people who had watched the Golden Knights win for The Bahamas in one of the country's proudest hours, get to know Chris Brown, just another guy from the island of Eleuthera, and yes, he would be honored to be in Rotary.
"Would you really want me to join when I come back to Nassau or Eleuthera," he asked, incredulous that a room filled with such successful people would invite him. "Well, we've got Eldece," shouted another member, referring to 1999 Golden Girls Olympic medalist Eldece Clarke, also a member of Sunrise Rotary. All the while, Brown seemed awed by the crowd. "He's so humble," whispered one woman to this writer. Later, she would say it aloud: "You're amazing. What a pleasure it is to see such a successful athlete who is humble, a husband, father whose family is such a priority." "Yes, it's too bad about the married part," joked another woman, or maybe not joking.
Brown had, in his quiet and unassuming way, won the crowd as firmly as he had the medal. He talked about "being in the zone" when focus is so intense that a runner does not hear noise around him or voices speaking to him. He talked about his two daughters, ages one and three, and his eyes lit up. He talked of how proud he was to be Bahamian. He did not tell them what a few people know - that other countries offered him huge sums of money to run for their flag, to train their best runners. He never considered it.
In his quiet voice, and in few words, he spoke eloquently, if never realizing that he did. "I've had a very long journey," he said. "Seventeen years, exactly half my life. It's not easy but I believe what they say when they say the Lord does not give you more than you can bear."
He talked briefly about the hours of training, the early mornings alone on a track, the sacrifices of being away from family, intention to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. "I'm not just a track and field man," he said. "I'm a married man and a father." There were more sighs from the audience. The sighs sounded female. Again, he seemed amazed.
"I don't know what we were expecting," said a Rotarian in the moments allotted for questions following a presentation, "but you're amazing, so humble and that's terrific and heart-warming to see."
If there were any more questions, they were drowned out by the applause.
Performance Trainer, Business Owner and World Cup Athlete Vaughn Bethell Brings Athletic Training to the Masses
GREENVILLE, S.C. --
Vaughn Bethell has taken his experience as a World Cup Soccer player on
the Bahamas National Team and as a professional speed and strength coach
to grow his business, Performance QSA into a cutting edge fitness
Performance QSA Sports and Personal Fitness Training Academy have been
open since January 2005. This state of the art human performance
institute for high performance amateur and professional athletes as well
as the general population features the latest training equipment in the
sports conditioning and fitness industry. Bethell's techniques have been
featured in Greenville News and in a 12 week...
Performance Trainer, Business Owner and World Cup Athlete Vaughn Bethell Brings Athletic Training to the Masses
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Vaughn Bethell has taken his experience as a World Cup Soccer player on the Bahamas National Team and as a professional speed and strength coach to grow his business, Performance QSA into....
"When people hire you, they hire you to solve problems," Raylene "Shelly" Gardiner told Guardian Business yesterday. "And when you're in a management position, that's all you do all day."
For the tourism champion, currently managing the properties of 79 homeowners and another 82 lot owners, problem solving is more than just a day's work. It's a big part of the reason she loves the work so much.
Over seventeen years ago, when she contemplated her career options, she initially wanted to do accounting.
She started out as a front-office clerk at the Royal Islander Hotel in Grand Bahama in 1994, where the hospitality bug bit her.
"Once you work in the industry it becomes a part of your life. It's not about the money, but about making a change in the community and being able to solve problems," Gardiner said.
Gardiner is the association manager for West End Resort Ltd., located on the western tip of Grand Bahama. She describes it as a semi-gated community that operates like a regular resort, with its 79 condominium units owned, by-and-large, by non-Bahamians.
Unlike typical visitors who invest in a few nights at a resort, however, her guests make substantial investments in their second home units, with their expectations and standards set that much higher as a result.
Gardiner's days are filled with taking care of relations with those property owners, each she said with a unique personality and requiring a personalized approach.
West End Resorts has only 52 employees, she said. But that's a part of the charm for Gardiner. Everyone pulls together and there's a true family atmosphere among the staff, she said.
Along her career, Gardiner has utilized formal education and mentorship to develop herself professionally. Fortunately, education and pushing yourself to the next level are values she says her parents instilled in her early. Her father only had a third grade education, she said, but never failed to impress the importance of education on her, right until he passed away seven years ago.
She never forgot the lessons of her 'godly parental background', Gardiner said. She recently returned from Oxford, London, for commencement services of Revans University where she obtained a professional master's degree. She has also secured Certified Hospitality Department Trainer (CHDT) and Certified Hospitality Trainer (CHT) designations, as well as a bachelor's degree in business administration and an associate degree in hospitality management from the Bahamas Hotel Training College.
The lesson she has taken away from the mentors who helped her develop may have been even more important.
"I can honestly say their standard for excellence is what stood out most to me. They never settled for mediocrity and always encouraged me to raise the standard and never accept failure as an option," she said.
Gardiner is committed to seeing a change for the better in service attitudes across the country. Many in the industry, she said, have a sense of entitlement - that the government or unions owe them something.
While she may accept responsibility for her part in her success, she passes the credit along.
"Nothing I do is of myself. It's God that gives me the wisdom and provides the knowledge to accomplish these things - along with a good family support," she said.
Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Wellington Miller has assigned portfolios to the entire executive lot. Interestingly enough, Iram Lewis, the embattled vice president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), was given a very important job. He is responsible for Family Islands Research.
Obviously the ongoing BAAA executive fight was not a factor at all in Miller's endorsement of the highly significant role Lewis must now play. Lewis, BAAA Secretary General Carl Oliver and parents association president Harrison Petty were recently the targets of a 'no confidence' vote that they deemed to have been processed unconstitutionally. Subsequently, they successfully applied for a Court Order to stay the action.
For the BOC, it's business as usual. Lewis has a mandate that ironically makes him a much bigger power player in sports than the president of the BAAA. It is Lewis who is best positioned and authorized to drive the sports talent search throughout the Family Islands. Based on the stated objective of BOC chief Miller, Lewis is expected to thoroughly examine the Family Islands on a continual basis to ensure that all of the "raw talent" is uncovered.
"We expect the Family Islands portfolio to have the best of results. This is something that I wanted to do from four years ago. Portfolios were assigned but the work wasn't done. This time it is out there for the general public to see what the real intentions of the BOC are when it comes particularly to national sports development.
"We in the BOC recognize that the search for talent is the missing piece of the puzzle in our sports industry. We've given Iram a big job and we have confidence that he can do it. We will provide Iram and all the others with what they need to carry out their responsibilities," Miller informed.
He advocates that initially Lewis should reach out to all of the development programs going on in the Family Islands, especially those with a working template. He feels that once Lewis has made contact with those in the Family Islands who are working with progressive structures or the trainers who are struggling individually to nurture young athletic boys and girls, his job will be easier.
"It's Lewis' job to do, but it makes sense to check out the sports scene in each inhabited family island and then determine the format the overall program. We are sure about what we are doing. Lewis has the background to be successful with his mandate," added Miller.
So, Lewis finds himself under the microscope. He will be challenged to perform efficiently despite the BAAA controversy. His BOC colleagues have placed a lot of faith in him. Hopefully he can justify the decision. On the other hand, although there are those within the BAAA family who want him out of the executive picture, it should be recognized that he is the only one positioned with authority to act on behalf of the track and field community around the BOC table.
It's a situation that's not enviable. BAAA President Sands and his supporters who backed the vote of 'no confidence' in Lewis now find themselves in a position whereby they need him to speak out for the organization. Lewis' portfolio is inclusive of all disciplines but track and field is a core sport and accordingly will get a high level of attention. It is Lewis who has evolved as the key track and field administrator in the nation.
If the agenda at the bottom of the BAAA controversy is not personal and more about the development of track and field athletes across the length and breadth of this country, then despite the big issue, Sands and company should reach across the executive divide within the organization, grasp Lewis' hand and agree to move forward.
Lewis is a fixture as a BOC vice president, at least for the next four years of an electoral period endorsed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). That should be fully recognized.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)
AS a means of giving back to a sporting icon and community which he called "key to his success," one young Bahamian entrepreneur plans to give back while honouring the name of a broadcasting giant who was influential in the lives of so many.
Jason Edgecombe, CEO of Strong Arm Fitness, is scheduled to host the first annual Phil Smith Celebrity Charity Event in New Providence July 8-10.
Now based in Houston, Texas, Edgecombe is an elite personal trainer for athletes and public figures, which he credits for his contacts and ability to successfully plan this event.
The weekend event will feature appearances by current ...
TORONTO, Canada - A leading tennis coach and sports
administrator in Canada sees the launch of nonstop Air Canada service to
St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) this winter as a
boost for sports-related tourism.
Lionel Eli, one of Canada's
highly rated and respected tennis coaches and personal trainers, said
the Virgin Islands "is not only an incredible vacation spot, but it also
is perfect for sports tourism encounters."
St. Andrew's School drew the number one seed in Pool One and Hill Crest Academy led the charge in Pool Two, as play got underway in the 10's Mini-Tennis Jamboree which swung into action over at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association's (BLTA) National Tennis Centre yesterday.