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A win in the regional tournament taking place in El Salvador will give local junior tennis players a sure spot in upcoming Grade I tournaments played under the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) umbrella.
Some 16 Bahamian tennis players are vying for the top spot in four divisions at the JITIC Tennis tournament going on in El Salvador. Described as the biggest regional tennis tournament, JITIC, has been won by numerous Bahamians in the past. President of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) Derron Donaldson is hoping the tradition continues.
"Now that the trend has been set, and the bar is very high, we expect that the players will do their best to keep the tradition alive," Donaldson said. "We believe in this team and know that they will do very well. With that being said, we are not putting any pressure on the team. I am sure that they will do well and this is based on the results coming in so far."
Several Bahamians did take to the court today, but no results were available up to press time. On Tuesday, Philip Major fell to Peter Bertran of Dominican Republic 6-3 and 6-5. Malik Jones was defeated by Trinidad and Tobago's Elan Mendez 2-4, 4-0 (11-9). Adding their names into the winning column were Shannon Francis and Treajh Ferguson.
Francis' win was over Asdrubal Daniel Marcano 4-2, 1-4 (10-7) while Ferguson got the best of Francisco Del Valle 4-3 and 4-1. The team of Ferguson and Major picked up a win in the doubles 6-1 and 6-2. They emerged victorious over William Kirkman and Jose Olivares. Dominique Mortier lost to Coralie Etienne 6-3 and 6-2; and Gabrielle Bowe lost to Alexandra Mercado 7-6 (9-7) 6-3. Slipping into the losing bracket were Erin Strachan who was defeated by Nancy Menjivar 6-2 and 6-2. Bowe and Mortier fell to Menjivar and Paola Carpio 6-1 and 6-1
Donaldson said, "I am confident that we were able to build a winning streak today (Wednesday). Either way we know what is needed in order for our players to compete at a high level.
"This is a much needed tournament as it gives the coaches and the BLTA an opportunity to see the level of our players and where they stack up in terms of regional play. We hear all the time how talented our players are from persons in the ITF. Several areas were even pointed and highlighted. So even though we had winners from past tournaments we are not going to put that pressure on these players. We want them to take full advantage of this tournament.
"This tournament opens up many doors for them. If any of the players are able to win they will receive a bye to at least three or four grade one tournaments. That is a bonus something many of our players in the past took full advantage of. A handful of players have advanced into the main draw. These players are gaining experience and exposure every time they step on the court and that is the most important point. The wins are not that important, the fact that the players are improving is the key."
Nikita Fountain and Ashton Hall are coaching the team. This is the just the first of several qualifying tournaments the BLTA will send players too. Donaldson said more tournaments are on the horizon in the upcoming weeks.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
10 a.m. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace - Women's 50m Free heats (heat 10, lane two)
8:27 p.m. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace - Women's 50m Free semis*
Track and Field
Noon Shaunae Miller - Women's 400m heats
7:05 p.m. Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie - Women's 100m heats
7:05 p.m. Sheniqua Ferguson - Women's 100m heats
7:50 p.m. Raymond Higgs - Men's Long Jump qualification
Saturday, August 4, 2012
7:30 p.m. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace - Women's 50m Free final*
Track and Field
10:35 a.m. Demetrius Pinder - Men's 400m heats
10:35 a.m. Ramon Miller - Men's 400m heats
10:35 a.m. Chris Brown - Men's 400m heats
12:30 p.m. Derrick Atkins - Men's 100m heats
12:30 p.m. Warren Fraser - Men's 100m heats
7:35 p.m. Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie - Women's 100m semis*
7:35 p.m. Sheniqua Ferguson - Women's 100m semis*
7:55 p.m. Raymond Higgs - Men's Long Jump final*
8:05 p.m. Shaunae Miller - Women's 400m semis*
9:55 p.m. Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie - Women's 100m final*
9:55 p.m. Sheniqua Ferguson - Women's 100m final*
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Track and Field
7:05 p.m. Donald Thomas - Men's High Jump qualification
7:05 p.m. Trevor Barry - Men's High Jump qualification
7:45 p.m. Derrick Atkins - Men's 100m semis*
7:45 p.m. Warren Fraser - Men's 100m semis*
8:40 p.m. Demetrius Pinder - Men's 400m semis*
8:40 p.m. Ramon Miller - Men's 400m semis*
8:40 p.m. Chris Brown - Men's 400m semis*
9:10 p.m. Shaunae Miller - Women's 400m final*
9:50 p.m. Derrick Atkins - Men's 100m final*
9:50 p.m. Warren Fraser - Men's 100m final*
* provided athletes advance.
o Times provided are according to local time in London.
When one thinks of Bahamian athletes who have excelled in all three sprints in track and field, names like Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) President Mike Sands and International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) Council member Pauline Davis-Thompson come to mind.
However, even they probably weren't able to do it like at the pace that is presently being produced by Grand Bahamian Michael Mathieu. In one short week, the new national record holder in the men's 200 meters (m) has either tied or set personal best times in all three sprints - the 100m, 200m and the 400m. He accomplished the latter yesterday, finishing first in the men's 400m at the fourth leg of the Brazilian Athletics Tour, in Uberlândia. Mathieu ran a stunning personal best time of 45.06 seconds to easily win the men's 400m, breaking the stadium record of 46.02 seconds.
It was his third victory in a week, as he took the 200m at the second leg of the Brazilian Athletics Tour, in Belem, last Sunday, and then followed that up with a first place finish in the men's 100m at the third leg of the Brazilian Athletics Tour, in Fortaleza, last Wednesday. Mathieu ran a national record setting time of 20.16 seconds in the 200m last Sunday, and tied a personal best time of 10.30 seconds in the 100m last Wednesday. His previous personal best in the 400m was 45.17 seconds, done at the Beijing Olympic Games four years ago, and his previous personal best in the 200m was 20.38 seconds.
As for his run in the 400m, it was the fastest time turned in by a Bahamian quartermiler this year. National record holder Chris Brown ran 45.14 seconds in the Cayman Islands last week, and just this past weekend, National Champion Demetrius Pinder galloped to a first place finish at the 6th Ponce Grand Prix, in Puerto Rico, in 45.15 seconds.
In Mathieu's race on Sunday, Brazilian Anderson Freitas Henriques was a distant second, in 45.74 seconds, and American Greg Nixon finished third, in 45.77 seconds. In Pinder's race, on Saturday, American Manteo Mitchell was second, in 45.28 seconds, and IAAF World Indoor Champion Nery Brenes, from Costa Rica, finished third, in 45.51 seconds.
Veteran Chandra Sturrup also competed in the Ponce Grand Prix, in Puerto Rico, on Saturday, and finished sixth in her heat of the women's 100m, and 12th overall, in 11.87 seconds.
Also competing this past weekend, at the first Samsung Diamond League Meet of the season, were high jumpers Trevor Barry and Donald Thomas. They finished tied for fifth in Doha, Qatar, on Friday, with identical leaps of 2.27m (7' 5-1/4"). Dimítrios Chondrokoúkis won that event with a leap of 2.32m (7' 7-1/4"), American World Champion Jesse Williams finished second with a best jump of 2.30m (7' 6-1/2"), and Mickael Hanany, from France, finished third with the same height as Williams. Samson Oni, from Great Britain, was fourth, clearing the same height as Barry and Thomas.
The sport of track and field (athletics) in this country deserves to be highlighted regularly.
Athletics received the baton from international sailing decades ago and has been a magnificent pacesetter ever since. Often though, and rightly so, the general public makes a profound connection only with the athletes. This is the case because indeed, the athletes are the faces of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA).
However, there is an entity that has for more than 20 years now, been the very foundation for the strides made by the BAAA. The officers operate in a humble fashion, neither seeking nor even wanting public recognition. Their collective role is to be that base organization that drives a successful program.
I refer to the Parents Association of Track and Field Athletes (PATFA). This splendid group has been around since 1999 and is largely (and in many instances) single-handedly responsible for the success structure within the BAAA. The original Steering Committee included: President Harrison Petty; Vice President Grafton Ifill Jr.; Vice President/Administrator Donna Nicholls; Secretary/Treasurer Joyanne Petty; Director Yvonne Lewis; Director Gonzalez Caine; Director Leevan Sands Sr. and Director Peter Pratt. Other founding members were Rupert Gardiner, Foster Dorsett and Barton Duncanson.
Presently, the Pettys and Pratt maintain their administrative responsibilities, joined by vice president Bernard Newbold and Director Mabelene Miller. The main objective back in 1999 and today is to "procure scholarships to junior colleges and interact on behalf of Bahamian student/athletes with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)."
The alumni of the PATFA numbers into the hundreds with World Championship performers, sprinter Derrick Atkins and high jumper Trevor Barry, as the prime examples of athletic/academic excellence. Other than that awesome role of empowering the talented and dedicated Bahamian students, the PATFA is also the financial bloodline of the BAAA.
The major events that generate funding, the connection with corporate sponsors, and in general, the branding of the BAAA, are duties handled by the PATFA. A case in point was the BAAA 60th Anniversary Ceremony held recently at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium and the signature supplement production. The PATFA led those initiatives, further proof that without this group of dedicated parents, grandparents and guardians, the BAAA would not be nearly as successful as it is today.
It is important as the country embarks on the mission to define the sports industry, that important elements like the PATFA are given full credit for ongoing contributions to nation building.
I salute Harrison Petty and his colleagues in the PATFA. The BAAA is challenged to continue working with and feeding off this group. There are three government ministries that would be minded to heavily support and partner with organizations such as the PATFA, as much as is possible. Those are the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The so-called best senior men's national team in quite some time, looked like minced meat against what was suppose to be a subpar opponent yesterday, on the second day of competition in the Confederation Basketball Confederation (CBC) Senior Championships in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Antigua and Barbuda slammed The Bahamas, 90-68, and now the team is in serious danger of not advancing to the Centrobasket Championships to continue its Olympic journey. Even the commentators on CaribVision termed it a huge upset, as the defending silver medalists were humiliated. They were competitive in the first half, but fell victim to turnovers, particularly in the second half, and struggled in guarding the perimeter throughout.
It was a crushing blow for Team Bahamas. They must defeat Cuba by at least 23 points today, or hope for an unlikely Antigua and Barbuda blowout loss against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to have any chance of advancing to the medal rounds and keeping their hopes alive for a second consecutive berth to Centrobasket.
"Poor guard play," was Assistant Coach Mario Bowleg's response when contacted last night. "Some guys just didn't come to play. They must think they (are) on a honeymoon or something. Antigua realized the importance of this game, and they came out and played as if their backs were against the wall. Their guards punished our guards. We didn't fight like we wanted it. These guys have to realize this is not on a honeymoon trip and they can't take any team lightly. We just have to show up and play. It's as simple as that."
The Antiguans turned the Multipurpose Sports Complex in Tortola into their own little playground as they beat The Bahamas to the ball at every turn. The Antiguans forced turnovers and bad shots; their team was efficient from the outside, and even scored inside against the much larger Bahamian team. The score was just 40-37 in favor of Antigua and Barbuda at the half, but Antigua and Barbuda outscored The Bahamas 22-13 in the third quarter and 28-18 in the fourth. The Antiguan team shot 11-for-31 from the three-point line, while The Bahamas was just 5-for-21. The Antiguans put up nine more shots than The Bahamas and shot a much better percentage from the floor.
Ernest Scott had a great game for them, with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds. Mario Davis came off the bench to score 13, and Jerome Richardson and Sharife Sergeant had 12 apiece.
Marvin Gray led The Bahamas with 18 points. Alonzo "CJ" Hinds scored 12, and Eugene Bain had 10.
The Bahamas will play Cuba in the team's next game at 6:45 p.m. this evening in Tortola. Not only is the team in a must-win situation, but the players must win convincingly. The Bahamas must win by at least 23 points or have St. Vincent and the Grenadines beat Antigua and Barbuda by at least 23 to have any chance of making it to the medal rounds and advancing to the Centrobasket Championships, which will be played later this summer.
Former Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday he doubts the government will restrict web shop operators from offering sports betting and online slot machine games, known as "spinning".
The new law would permit "domestic players" to participate in "numbers games" with licensed web shops.
A numbers game is defined as a game made available by the holder of a gaming house operator license "in terms of which any single number or combination of numbers ranging from 000 to 999 may be wagered upon by a player at odds, which are fixed at the time of conclusion of the wager".
"I believe it will be changed, and if it isn't changed, they (web shop owners) will change it," said Bethel, referring to the Gaming Bill.
"You have a culture of doing what they wish to do, and so far it seems they have been prevailing, even against the will of the voters.
"If the majority of Bahamians wanted it legalized or regularized, they would have voted for it.
"But the Bahamian people either voted against it or voted with their feet. Yet, where are we today?"
Web shops, including but not limited to Asue Draw, Island Luck, Chances and Paradise Games, offer sports betting for a variety of matches and events.
Spinning is common in many web shops throughout the country.
Bethel said he believes the government will bend to the will of "the barons and lords of the web shops", who he said would soon make their objections known.
"I hear them saying it is only going to be numbers, but I don't think that is going to happen...not for the barons and lords of the web shops, no sir," he said.
"I find it difficult to believe that the government is able to say no to them for whatever reason.
"...We'll see who the government is, on that issue of gambling.
"But I do not hold out any hope that the barons and lords of web shops are going to be limited to play in numbers."
The majority of voters who participated in the gambling referendum last January voted against the regulation and taxation of web shops and the establishment of a national lottery.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has repeatedly defended his decision to go against the referendum results.
Christie said his decision came after the governor of The Central Bank brought to his attention the damning situation the country faced, "where there was a new banking order and where, in fact, loan managers [were] being hired to conduct personal mortgages".
The amended Gaming Bill will pave the way for web shops to be regularized retroactive to July 1.
Wherever the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) national meet is staged, thrills and excitement can be expected in abundance.
According to a BAAA source, the event is to be held in New Providence at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, which, is to be refurbished in time for the June 22-23 weekend. The funds to do the 'quick' job will soar into the neighborhood of $50,000. There is still though, the option of Grand Bahama. Certainly, the new Minister of Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville, would like very much to have such an event organized for that island. The flagging economy in Grand Bahama could surely use the boost.
Whatever the case though, the 2012 nationals will likely provide sensational performances like never seen before. A delightful development is the return to form of Derrick Atkins. The former World Championships silver medalist has lowered his time in the 100 meters this season from 10.24 to 10.09. On Saturday past, he recorded the 10.09 clocking while winning his specialty at the Star Athletics Meet in Florida.
A week earlier, Warren Fraser ran 10.18 at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Outdoor Championships. Fraser joined an elite group when he hit the 10.18 mark. Rudy Levarity, Renward Wells and Andrew Tynes were the joint national record holders before Atkins ran 10.08 to eclipse the mark. Now, Fraser is among the five Bahamian athletes who have done 10.18 (with Atkins being the only one to run better).
Atkins' national mark is 9.91. Fraser has emerged as the first to (potentially) challenge Atkins for national supremacy. It will be exciting to see them line up for the final in the 100 meters at the nationals. Atkins has to be favored, but if he falters for the slightest moment, he could very well be upstaged. Then, there is the annual rivalry in the 400 meters. Four athletes could win the race, inclusive of veteran Chris Brown, defending National Champion Demetrius Pinder, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu.
Over on the women's side, there is a chance that for the first time in a very long time, none of the Original Golden Girls will end up champions in the short sprints. If national record holder (10.84) Chandra Sturrup competes, Anthonique Strachan or Sheniqua Ferguson could win the 100 meters. The other Original Golden Girl Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie could lose as well.
Ferguson-McKenzie's best race is the 200 meters. One of the young guns could reign supreme in that event. On the field, former World Champion (2007) Donald Thomas and Trevor Barry will clash in the high jump. Barry has burst out of Thomas' shadow in a big way and will be favored by many. The excitement will no doubt spill over into other events, but the aforementioned will certainly provide the bulk of the thrills and excitement.
Wherever the BAAA nationals are held, that will be the place to be June 22-23.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)
The senior men's national volleyball team sent a strong message to the other squads playing at the 14th Annual Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championships, in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Tuesday.
After receiving a first day bye, the national team took to the court against Guadeloupe. Led by captain Prince Wilson, the team served up its first win, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-13. The match lasted 73 minutes and Wilson finished as the top scorer with 14 points. Teammates Renaldo Knowles and Byron Ferguson added 10 and eight points respectively.
The Bahamas is playing out of Pool 'B' with host country the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), and Guadeloupe. Over in Pool 'A' are the defending champions Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados and Martinique. Head Coach De'Vince Smith likes the start the team is off to, and was looking to keep the win/loss record blemish free when they took to the court against the U.S. Virgin Islands last night. The result of that match was unavailable up to press time.
Smith said: "Our players had the opportunity to compete against most players throughout the Caribbean in numerous club and semi-professional tournaments prior to traveling to the Caribbean Volleyball Championships. However, we were placed in a pool with southern countries in the likes of Guadeloupe and the U.S. Virgin Islands where we had no prior opportunities to see the level of competition of these teams.
"Fortunately, host country USVI played Guadeloupe on the opening night which gave us an opportunity to watch and scout both teams. Guadeloupe plays a relatively slow and high game, with most of their sets to the outside or right back position. During our practice session, I had players assimilate the exact style of play in an effort to strategize our game. For the most part, we quickened our offense to beat the taller, slower blocks and used the three-man block to defend the high balls being set to the wings. It was of utmost importance to win the first game and set the tempo. We wanted to make a statement for the remaining games."
The national team was training in preparation for the tournament for over three months. The team is missing Shedrick Forbes, a right-side attacker who plays an integral part in the team's offense. He was unable to travel because of technical issues with his passport. The team was forced to re-adjust the offense, shuffling players around into various positions.
"We have a very versatile team and so we were able to make the necessary adjustments," said Smith. "He (Forbes) is going to be missed. It did bring the mood down a bit but the guys were all hyped and excited to finally hit the court and show that they belong here, and that the title can be won by them. We jumped on Guadeloupe from the first point which was a perfectly executed slide from Byron Ferguson.
"From that point Prince Wilson went to the service line and gave the team a comfortable seven-point lead. The team never looked back as setter Tony Simon ran a consistent offense, coupled with strong blocks at the net from Byron and Renaldo Knowles. Team libero Jamaal Ferguson played a steady reception and defensive game allowing the setter to take control of the offense.
"If we continue to play and have a well-balanced game every time we step on the court, it will be hard to beat us."
The quarter-finals will start on Friday and continue on Saturday. The championship will wrap up on Sunday. The women's segment will come on the heels of the men's, commencing on Tuesday. The women's national team will leave on Monday.
This coming weekend, the Freeport Rugby Club will once again be hosting a junior boys rugby team from the Cayman Islands. Last year's competition was a tremendous success with over 50 boys, from ages 8-12, coming together to play hard but fair. New friendships were made and some rivalries were created setting the stage for an even more amazing weekend this time around. To add to the fun and competition this year, there will also be a team from Bermuda to compete for the title of Junior Rugby Champions. Christopher Rowland from the Cayman Islands said: "It's going to be a lot of fun. Everyone is very excited on our side especially with the inclusion of another country - the kids are really looking forward to it especially the ones who came last year."
The format for the weekend will start with a round-robin competition between teams from The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda with a couple of 'Barbarian' sides for good luck. The 'Barbarian' teams will be made up of players from all of the countries mixing and matching thereby helping to develop teamwork, camaraderie and fair play. The games on Saturday will start at 11 a.m. and will continue until about 4 p.m. Following the games, the teams will then have a chance to mix at a pool party and a barbecue.
"On Sunday, we will be having the junior international games. The kick-off of the first game is at 11 a.m. and these will be played between full sides from each of the three countries to determine the overall champion," said Rob Speller, president of the Freeport Rugby & Football Club. He expressed his delight that the club could once again host the tournament. "It's great to be able to put on such an event that brings together these kids to play what is a great game. They have loads of fun, learn new skills and make new friends. It's fantastic," he said.
Michael Mathieu is one of just three Bahamians to qualify at the 'A' standard for the athletics portion of the 2012 Olympic Games in two individual events, creating a precarious situation of whether or not he would go after the double at the Olympics.
Well, prior to running in the second leg of the Brazilian Athletics Tour yesterday, he squashed that notion, by stating that he intends to focus solely on the 200 meters (m) at next month's Scotiabank Olympic Trials, thereby setting himself up to run just that individual event at the Olympics. Although he won't contest the 400m, Mathieu said he will still be available for the men's 4x400m relay, which is scheduled to start the day after the men's 200m final, at the London Olympics. On Sunday, he ran a national record setting time of 20.16 seconds for first place in the 200m at the first leg of the Brazilian Athletics Tour in Belem, and yesterday in Fortaleza, he tied a personal best time of 10.30 seconds for first place in the 100m. Brazilians Bruno Lins Tenorio de Barros and Diego Henrique de Farias Cavalcanti were second and third respectively, in times of 10.31 seconds and 10.42 seconds.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Mathieu yesterday. " I just want to thank God for blessing me with my heart's desire. My goal was to set the national record (200m) at this meet, based on my training and fitness. Going into the race, I felt that I could do it or at least come close to it, so it's a great feeling to set my mark for a particular event and reach it.
"Dominic Demeritte was a great sprinter for The Bahamas and I knew the record was going to be hard to obtain, but I had faith in my ability. Last year, my focus was on the 400m, but I managed to run 20.38 early in the year so I decided to focus on the 200m for the World Championships. This year my focus is on the 200m and that's all I'm focused on," he added.
Former St. John's College sprinter Demeritte had the old national record in the 200m, 20.21 seconds, which he ran twice in 2002. On Sunday, Mathieu was able to lower that time in 35 degree weather in Belem, Brazil. He was poised to qualify for last year's 200m final at the Daegu World Championships but pulled up with a hip flexor injury in the semi-finals. He
finished the year with a season's best time of 20.38 seconds, and was more than two tenths faster than that time on Sunday.
"Last year, I think I would have done well if I didn't get injured," said Mathieu. "This year, I'm prepared to run the 200m and hopefully the 4x400m. The schedule for the 200m and the 4x400m at the Olympics is different than it was for last year's World Championships, so if I do make the final for the 200, I will still be able to run the 4x400 final, so that shouldn't be a problem," he added.
Last year, the heats and semis of the 200m and the final of the 4x400m were held on the same day at the World Championships. This year at the Olympics, the men's 4x400m heats are scheduled to be held the day after the men's 200m final. The final of the men's 4x400m is scheduled to be held the day after the heats.
As for the Scotiabank Olympic Trials, they are set for June 22-23 at the new Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium, and the athletics portion of this summer's Olympics are set to run from Friday, August 3 to Sunday, August 12, in London, England.