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On Tuesday morning, Grand Bahama lost the philanthropic Sir Jack Hayward. That night, friends and family members said their "farewells" to Tony "Solo" Newton. Sir Jack and Newton walked different pathways but both made valuable contributions to sports development in The Bahamas.
Newton at the time of his passing, had been out of the national sporting limelight for many decades, but he was part of an important chapter in basketball. He was a star shooting guard/small forward on the Comoco Vikings senior basketball squad that took the nation by storm during the Bahamas Amateur Basketball Association's (BABA) 1968-1969 season.
BABA is now the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) and the general scene is far removed from the years when Newton was in his prime and the Vikings reigned supreme over the nation's basketball fraternity. That was the period when the gyms in New Providence would be filled to capacity for basketball games. It was also one of the exceptional moments in time.
Traditionally during that era, the St. Bernard's/Kentucky Colonels, Old Oak/Beck's Cougars, Pinder's Barber Shop and a few other veteran franchises dominated competition in the capital island where BABA was based. Under the upstart and new-vision coach Gladstone "Moon" McPhee, the junior Comoco Vikings had won the championship the pervious year.
It was anticipated that Comoco on the senior scene would be competitive but there were no expectations of the dominance that would take place. Under Coach McPhee, something new and very different unfolded. He put together a squad that from the very outset refused to be intimidated.
Along with Newton, the names were Bruce "Dick Brown" Russell, Tyrone "Acre" Strachan, Patrick "Peco" Johnson, Rudy Cooper, Roosevelt "Dog" Turner, Anthony
Balfour, Ormand Russell, Keith "Five" Albury, Philip "Gilly" Huyler, Robert "Skinner" Albury, Joseph "Wally Joe", Rodney Rolle and Robert Johnson.
The haven for the team was the homestead of Trixy Hanna on the corner of Mount Royal Avenue and Hampton Street in the very heart of "The Valley". Her daughters Bernadette and Paula were staunch supporters and the mascot was Stephen "Slalene" Alleyne. The team was the pride and joy of "The Valley". Coach McPhee had crafted a masterpiece of youthful basketball skill and determination.
They would not be denied no matter the opposing squads. Strachan was cold-blooded. His jump shot was deadly and no Bahamian who ever lived, had a quicker release, in my view. Cooper anchored the backcourt from the point guard position, "Dick Brown" Russell was the strong forward and Peco Johnson managed the pivot surprisingly well. With Newton that was the starting five.
It was a compact unit, intent, like its coach in establishing a reputation for quality basketball play. Notable in that group of course, was Newton. He was a safe, reliable shot. When he came off the pick set most often by "Dick Brown" Russell, it was up in a flash and more often than not the ball touched only the net.
He created his own shots also. Newton had that "quick step and rise" for the jump shot. His even-tempered nature transferred easily to the court, demonstrated by his constant poise and readiness whenever the coach called his number. To a great degree, Newton's character was captivated by his teammates. Under pressure, they responded best and provided Coach McPhee with perhaps the smoothest stretch on his long journey of mentoring basketball players.
Newton was part of the "Golden Era of Basketball" in The Bahamas. It is quite special to be able to take readers on a walk down memory lane as I pay tribute to an unsung but true basketball talent. Now, many more Bahamians know about the talented basketball player they called "Solo."
Rest in peace my friend!
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
With the fourth consecutive victory for The Bahamas International Club's (IC) team on Thursday, they are set to meet the United States of America (USA) for the SG Private Banking Trophy, given to the overall winner of the International Tennis Doubles Week.
On Thursday, The Bahamas' team of John Antonas and Mas Kimball lost the opening match to the International team, causing a bit of concern for the hosts. However, the Ladies team of Larikah Russell and Sue Kimball then levelled the tie up for The Bahamas. This was followed by another men's doubles match in which Neil Mactaggart and Kit Spencer had a slow start but came back to win and put The Bahamas ahead 2-1.
Next up was a mixed doubles match. After losing the first set, 7-6 in a tiebreak, Kim O'Kelly and Kit Spencer came back to win the second set and then the third set to ensure an overall fourth win in four days for The Bahamas. In the last match, John Antonas and Larikah Russell won to give The Bahamas a comfortable 4-1 victory over the International team.
They will now play the USA, who are also 4-0, for the title on Friday.
The strong USA team defeated Barbados on Thursday to remain undefeated.
In addition to the championship match-up on Friday, Barbados will play Canada to decide the third and fourth places while Great Britain will play the International team for fifth and sixth place.
On Wednesday, The Bahamas defeated Canada 3-0.
In the opening match, Antonas and Mas Kimball defeated Shaheer Mikhail and John Payne, 6-4 and 6-2. In the next match Russell and Sue Kimball overcame Pam Olley and Pam Rosenbaum, 6-1 and 6-1. The tie was sealed when Neil Mactaggart and Sandy Reid had a very close match with Peter Nielsen and Owen Pellew, but prevailed 3-6, 7-6 and 10-8. That clinched the victory for The Bahamas, who finished second to the USA in the previous International Tennis Doubles Week.
This is the third time this event has been held in The Bahamas, and in addition to an excellent week of tennis played in the IC spirit of "Hands across the net, friendship across the Ocean", it has provided over 1,000 overnight stays to The Bahamas' tourist industry and SuperClubs Breezes where the event is being held.
For more information and full detailed results for all teams, the public is asked to visit the website www.ictennis.net and click to The Bahamas site and 2015 Doubles Week where photos of on and off court activities are shown.
With a little over a week to go before the start of the 20th Commonwealth Games, Bahamian athletes continue to fine tune themselves with strong performances overseas.
Three Bahamian athletes got a feel of the competition arena in Glasgow as they took part in the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix, a Diamond League Meet, on Saturday. It's at the same site as the Commonwealth Games, set for July 23 to August 3, and all three Bahamian athletes who participated on Saturday are expected to be a part of that team, even though the athletics portion of the team is yet to be ratified.
Once again, it was the ageless one, Chris "The Fireman" Brown leading the way.
Brown dipped under 45 seconds again, circling the track in 44.94 seconds to finish second in the men's 400 meters (m). Isaac Makwala, of Botswana, took the tape in 44.71 seconds and British athlete Matthew Hudson-Smith finished third, in 44.97 seconds. For Brown, who was unavailable for comment, it was the third time this year he dipped under 45 seconds. About a week ago, he ran a season's best of 44.59 seconds at the Athletissima Diamond League Meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Brown also picked up a victory off the track this weekend. He was nominated for and won the Bahamian Icon Award for sports, beating out noted sportsmen and women such as Coach Henry Rolle, Pauline Davis-Thompson, Cynthia Rahming and Waltiea Rolle. Sports Director Timothy Munnings accepted the award in Brown's honor.
The athletics portion of Team Bahamas for the 20th Commonwealth Games is expected to be finalized today, and Brown is expected to play a pivotal role, quite possibly contesting the open men's 400m and the 4x400m relay.
With his stellar run on Saturday, Brown has now run three consecutive sub 45-second races and looks primed to contend for a medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Also competing on Saturday at the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix was Anthonique Strachan in the women's 200m. Running out of lane seven and lined up against a tough field, Strachan came off the curve and powered home in 22.87 seconds, only good enough for seventh place. Dafne Schippers, from the Netherlands, was the surprise winner, in 22.34 seconds, American Allyson Felix continued her comeback, finishing second, in 22.35 seconds, and Blessing Okagbare, from Nigeria, was third, in 22.41 seconds.
Bianca Stuart was the only other Bahamian competing at that meet on Saturday, finishing eighth in the women's long jump, with a best leap of 6.52m (21' 4-3/4").
American Tianna Bartoletta won the event with a best jump of 6.98m (22' 11"), Katarina Johnson-Thompson, of Great Britain, finished second with a personal best leap of 6.92m (22' 8-1/2"), and Shara Proctor, also of Great Britain, was third with a jump of 6.82m (22' 4-1/2").
Now that the qualification period for the upcoming Olympic Games has closed, Bahamian athletes who have made the mark, in athletics, now know exactly where they stack up.
The updated performance listing for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was released on July 3, a day after the qualification period for the London Games closed. All eyes were glued to the listing, since powerhouses in the sport like United States of America (USA), Jamaica and European countries wrapped up their Olympic trials on the weekend past.
There is no doubt now, that the men's 100 meters (m) will be a thriller and national record holder Derrick Atkins, as well as collegian Warren Fraser both made sure that they are a part of the action. Atkins has a season's best of 10.09 seconds and Fraser's time is 10.18 seconds. The world leader in the event is Jamaican Yohan Blake with a time of 9.75 seconds. His fellow countryman, Usain Bolt has ran 9.76 seconds this season. Bolt is the world record holder with 9.58 seconds.
Michael Mathieu has posted a blazing time in the 200m and will head into the games as the top qualifier for The Bahamas. Also listed high on the charts in the event is quartermiler Demetrius Pinder and Ramon Miller. Blake is the world leader in this event as well. He has a best of 19.80 seconds. The three Bahamians are not to far off. Mathieu is at 20.16 seconds, Pinder's time is 20.23 seconds and Miller crossed the line at 20.50 seconds.
The sixth fastest time so far in the 400m, in the world, belongs to Pinder who posted 44.77 seconds. Miller is a couple steps behind Pinder with 44.87 seconds and Mathieu has turned in 45.06 seconds. Chris Brown has cracked the top 20 with 45.14 seconds. American LaShawn Merritt is the current world leader with the time of 44.12 seconds.
High jumper Trevor Barry has the 11th best mark, so far this season. The sole Bahamian competing in the upcoming games in the event, has soared over 2.31m. Young Ryan Ingraham was hoping to make the mark, he has a best on the season of 2.28m. Bronze medalist in the triple jump, from the 2008 Olympic Games, Leevan Sands will look to make the podium again. His marking is at 17.03m.
Three Bahamian female sprinters have all qualified with the A standard set for the London Games. Leading the way and the highest ranked on the women's 100m listing is Sheniqua Ferguson with 11.07 seconds. Young Anthonique Strachan has a season's best of 11.22 seconds and Chandra Sturrup has posted 11.45 seconds. National record holder in the 200m, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie is right in the hunt with 11.26 and Shaunae Miller's time is 11.41 seconds.
The best time by any Bahamian female in the 200m is 22.64 seconds by Ferguson. That time has her in the top 20 and Miller is about five spots below her with 22.70 seconds. Strachan has qualified in the half lap event too, with her season's best of 22.75 seconds.
Miller is the sole female to qualify for the 400m and is the only one to crack the top 25 on the IAAF's chart. She has a season's best of 51.25 seconds.
The official team in athletics will be named by the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). The Olympic Games will be held in London, England July 27-August12.
On July 10, 1973, when the Union Jack was lowered and the country's national flag raised for the first time, Bahamians everywhere stood in pride. Today, that same joy is felt through the accomplishments of our athletes competing on the local, regional and international stages.
It is that sense of national pride that pushes our athletes forward and keeps the fire burning in the hearts of the executives of the various sporting federations who work extremely hard to make the dream possible.
A wide range of sports are played in The Bahamas but only 10 are referred to as the core sports in the country, and a handful come under the Bahamas Olympic Committee. Here's what the various federation heads had to say about the development of their respective disciplines.
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA)
President Mike Sands
The success of the association over the years is directly attributed to the outstanding performances of the athletes. The BAAA is an organization that creates opportunities for athletes to participate in various meets internationally and regionally.
"We also have taken a very special interest and care in certifying our coaches through courses. We encourage and support them in taking advantage of the courses that are available through the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as well as USA Track and Field," said Sands.
These programs allow participants to improve their skills. "Over the years we have seen a growth in the number of coaches who are certified at the top level. The association has provided them with opportunities to become knowledgeable about the sport and through that extent, we have seen outstanding performances from our athletes. We have taken great pride in making that one of our priorities."
There have been some challenges as the association tries to reach new heights and improve, but nonetheless improvements on all levels have been achieved.
"The association has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, [during] which we have highlighted numerous athletes and persons who have contributed to the programs. There is no doubt that we have grown and that the history of the organization is rich. Our founders have fought hard and the athletes have capitalized on the accomplishments from those before them. The association has become the victim of our success to an extent because the ability to fund the teams is challenging. But through the support of corporate Bahamas, the government and other sponsors we were able to provide athletes with the many opportunities. There are a number of initiatives we would like to improve upon and we are now viewing our strategic plan to determine how we will do so," according to Sands.
As far as accomplishments, there have been many.
"We can go far back as Thomas Robinson and others who were the first to make a mark on the international scene. The torch has been passed on and we thank persons like Thomas Robinson for their contributions," he said.
"Our success is notable. Athletes have excelled on all levels. The BAAA does not count medals but looks at the personal achievements of our athletes. That is key. Over the years, we have collected a lot of medals, but seen so many improvements from our athletes. That is our driving force, our motivation."
Bahamas Swimming Federation (BSF)
President Algernon Cargill
"Our focus is ensuring that we can develop a comprehensive National Learn to Swim program and provide an opportunity for every young Bahamian to swim. Those with potential will be identified so they can move onto more competitive swimming. We've noticed that there are too many Bahamians who cannot swim, and given the geography of The Bahamas that is really not a very good thing," said Cargill.
BSF wants to have continuous growth and development in the sport.
"The progress and success of our age group is measured by our success at CARIFTA. From 2003 to date, we have placed in the top three at those games. In 2006, we came within seven points of winning CARIFTA. So we see a lot of progress in swimming, especially at the CARIFTA level, in terms of growth," said Cargill.
The federation was represented at the Olympic Games and the FINA World Championships. At the last Olympic Games, The Bahamas had four swimmers, two females for the first time. In 2004, The Bahamas had the first female swimmer qualify for the Olympic Games, Nikia Deveaux. In the last Olympic Games, 2008, both Alanna Dillette and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace qualified. This summer, Vanderpool-Wallace will be the lone swimmer. But she has already won a world medal. The Bahamas has never before made it to the finals of the World Championships. To win a medal speaks to the success of the program.
"The success of our female relay team in placing at such a high level, globally, speaks to the potential of swimming in The Bahamas. We need more Olympic swimmers, and create more scholarships for swimmers. For some reason swimming doesn't receive the same profile in the eyes of college recruiters as track and field does. But we want to see more Bahamians on athletic scholarships to colleges abroad," said Cargill.
"The BSF wants to open more doors for our swimmers. We have had tremendous growth and the increase is phenomenal. Our swimmers have so much potential. And as a result we are looking beyond the CARIFTA Games and are now looking to win other competitions like CCAN. We want to develop aquatic sports like water polo and synchronized swimming. Diving is also on our list. There was a female's water polo team that just stopped and now the male team is in the developmental stages. But we haven't done anything in diving and synchronized swimming. We haven't explored the open water swimming as much. There were a few open water meets but we need to develop it more so we can compete at the regional and international levels," he added.
"Since we were founded we have expanded in terms of facilities, but we still need more pools. We have one 50 meter pool that is heavily used. There should be a pool in the east, west and south of New Providence. There were the addition of more swim clubs in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands and we look to improve on this as well in the coming years."
Bahamas Football Association (BFA)
President Anton Sealey
"Over the years we have competed on every level. We have competed in senior men, women, under-23 boys and girls, under-19, under-17 and in the under-15 divisions. We have seen tremendous growth, certainly in terms of numbers and the participants in the various groups. We have had an increase on the junior side, which has assisted with the growth in the league. There have been some peaks and valleys when it comes to the senior league. We had a women's league established years ago and for various reasons that league stopped. But over the last two years, under the leadership of Daria Adderley, we started to rekindle the women's league and we are going to be putting on some tournaments in the next year or so. In Grand Bahama, they've always maintained a vibrant women's program and a competitive women's league. That is a flip to their men's league, which has not been participating over the last three years," said Sealey.
"I am not as satisfied with the level of growth but I have always maintained and believe that growth has to be managed and that we have managed our growth. Because it is an amateur sport, you rely on volunteers, for the most part, to do these things. Because of the growth at the youth level, a lot of the volunteers are spending their time at that level. Therefore, we don't have the quality and the number of volunteers for the senior level that will really commit you to see any meaningful growth. But, because of the amount of juniors we have coming through, we need to do something to address that senior level football. That is the challenge that the federation faces right now."
Sealy and his team took the helm in 1996 but the association was founded long before. Prior to 1996, the emphasis was always on senior soccer.
"During the years 1973 to about 1996, we had a very vibrant senior men's league here in Nassau and to a lesser extent in Freeport. But the level of play was very high and competitive. We had a heavy influence of foreign nationals participating in the league because we had foreign teachers and croupiers at that time. So these people made up the football teams that played here. At that time we had a very good senior program but nothing was happening on the junior level," explained Sealey. "In 1996, when the current administration came into office, we recognized this and our first plan in action was to develop a youth development program which would be the feeder system to the senior league. So there was a renaissance of the game when the league took a decline in the number of teams participating and that is when we embarked on the youth development program. That had a tremendous affect. Now we have competitive games, a good crowd and are performing favorably in international competitions."
Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF)
President Burkette Dorsette
The federation has transformed over the last 40 years, according to Dorsette.
"One time we were at our pinnacle in softball when we finished third in the world in the men's and ladies'. We had a lull in that progression sometime around the 1990s and early 2000s but we are gradually getting back there. The last time the men competed in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games we finished fourth. So we are heading back there and want to improve on our placing. We have teams who are now working out for a couple of very important tournaments," said Dorsette.
The Pan American Games and the World Qualifiers are high on the schedule. Those matches will be played in September of this year. When it comes to the juniors, the International Softball Federation (ISF) has stepped up its programs and the BSF wants to feed off that.
"We had sent a novice team off to the under-16 tournament last year. They didn't fair too well but we expected that because that was their first international trip. Since then a good junior program has been developed, which we hope the teams in New Providence can piggy back off [of]," he said.
The federation also assists the associations with the development of their programs.
"We have stepped up our game, in terms of our development, and would like to supply more to our associations, whether it is equipment or technical support. The technical aspect will come in our game officiating and we would be taking full advantage of the ongoing umpires clinics," said Dorsette.
The BSF has just received word from the ISF regarding international certification courses for umpires. There are about six internationally certified umpires now and the BSF wants to add to that.
"Over the years we have seen a decline in the administrations of some of our associations. There are plans to host some administrative courses," he shared.
Two new associations have joined the federation.
"Inagua is in full swing and we have just received application from Spanish Wells. I recently returned from Cat Island and they have expressed interest and are preparing a field for softball play on that island. So softball is picking up in the country whether it is fast pitch, modified pitch or slow pitch. There have been a lot of improvements since the founding day. We've hosted numerous tournaments and added various associations under our umbrella," said Dorsette.
"The progression over the last 40 years has been tremendous. We will continue to pursue avenues on where and how we can improve the game. These improvements will also be seen on the adminstration, technical and upkeep of facilities. The future is very bright and we want to continue to grow by leaps and bounds. We have some young talented players who are great prospects and that is always an encouragement."
Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF)
Acting President Joseph Smith
The changes in the game have affected the BVF in a positive light, said its acting president Joseph Smith.
"There has been an increase in all of our programs, from the junior to the senior development side. The game has changed drastically and The Bahamas has been improving from then. We have competed on high levels. There were teams who represented The Bahamas at many qualifiers in the past and we are back on track with playing in these qualifiers. At one time, The Bahamas was number one on the women's side and on the men, we were ranked number two in the English-speaking Caribbean," he noted.
"When the changes to the rules of the game were first introduced we had a little lull, but as time progressed our players caught on. The federation was able to bridge that gap around 2000. That is also the year when we revamped our program, adding more of our junior players to the senior teams. The older teams had seen success and we wanted to infiltrate the juniors into this program so when our more senior players bowed out, the juniors would fill in.
"The executives made sure that our coaches and officials were up to international standards. That has trickled down to our players who are now coaches themselves. So overall, you would have seen a quicker game with a defensive player."
The list of players who have gone on to college on a volleyball scholarship is "very long".
"We still have some in the pipe line. Not only was the past a strong one, and the foundation sound, but the future looks bright. We have climbed our way back up the ranking ladder," said Smith. "Some of the older players have returned to assist the teams, departing some of the knowledge they know on the younger guys."
Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF)
President Charles 'Softly' Robins
The Bahamas Basketball Association was the governing body back in the day and the sport grew under Mr. Vince Ferguson. I watched it grow from then to now, and I have seen basketball come a long, long way. Many people might say that the sport is not growing, but it is definitely growing. There was a time that it seemed like we had better players, but we didn't have better players. What happened was there were a lot of players on one team. Players either joined the Kentucky Colonel, Fox Hill Mangoes or the Cougars. Those teams were so good because they had the numbers. So everyone enjoyed basketball back then. The actual game, comparing to now, was much better because we played more basic basketball and the players back then were fundamentally sound. But the game itself has grown, it is quicker and flashier.
Bahamians enjoyed the game and it showed every time the players stepped on the court. It was a joy to see players like Quant Sterling, who was ranked number one at one point in the Caribbean, play. He along with many others gave you a show that was worth every dollar spent. Nowadays, we have players who can make it into the NBA, who have even played at the high level, but their commitment wasn't like how it was in the past. They were a committed group of players who were willing to learn the game. There was a point when wearing the flag on your chest meant a lot. They took pride in the game and it showed in their dominant performance. Some people will say the players today can not compete with those in the past, but I believe that they can.
There is much more competition now. But we still were able to produce professional players who have played in the NBA. We also had a lot of other ball players who tried out for the professional rank. Now I see a lot of potential and we can surpass the numbers that we had in the past. I don't think the sport is in a decline. Not all of our professional players are in the NBA, they are playing in other leagues as well. We are coming back. This crew of ball players now, they are really good. So in the coming years, we should be able to produce at least three or four basketball players.
Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA)
President Derron Donaldson
Over the years we have built on the accomplishments of some of our more notable players like Mark Knowles, Roger Smith and Kim Cartwright. Their, along with many others', achievements on the local and international stages have paved the way for players like Nikkita Fountain, Larikah Russell, Kerrie Cartwright, Devin Mullings, Marvin Rolle and others. We are now seeing a resurgence in the sport and the main reason for that is because we created a feeder system. More juniors are now coming forth and are playing at a very high level. They are getting opportunities many persons in the past did not get. A number of our players are ranked.
At the recently held Davis Cup, we changed the look of the team and sent the young players. We wanted to give them an opportunity. This year was our 24th appearance at the tournament. From since we started playing in the Davis Cup, in 1989, we've played in about 66 ties. We have never made it to the World Group but I think we can get there. We did make it into the World Group play-offs, that was back in 1993. So you can see our tennis players have the potential.
Locally, we have hosted several international and regional tournaments. Bahamians have competed in these tournaments, and done extremely well. All of this is a part of our growth. There are a lot of changes we are going to make in the upcoming months. The changes that were made in the past we have built and improve on them. We competed in the Olympics. That was a major accomplishment and we want to get back there. We know that we will need to get our players in tournaments where they can earn more points. This opens the doors for them.
Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF)
President Danny Sumner
The BBFF started off with Hubert Wong, Cyril Smith, Edison Deleveaux and Dr. Norman Gay.
"They were the principal people who got the ball rolling and organized the association. Wong was the first president. That was the year they got a commitment from the International Federation for Bodybuilding's (IFB) president Ben Weider for The Bahamas to be added to the international list.
"We were the third member of the IFB that year. As we moved forward a lot of Bahamians became interested. Dr. Gay was president and was working extremely hard to promote the sport. One of the more notable athletes in the first era was Kingsley Poitier," recalled Sumner. "He was the most prolific. Kingsley Poitier won Mr. World. That was the highest award you could have won in bodybuilding at that time. Other persons who were outstanding on the international level were Glen Wells. He competed in Mr. Universe. There was Tony Carroll, Edison Deleveaux and Aurthur Eldon, who was around a long time. Those names were like the pioneer names who competed internationally. They sparked the fire for bodybuilders on the local scene. We had a lot of top bodybuilders going all the way back to Jeremy Knowles, Della Thomas, Joel Stubbs, Raymond Tucker and so on. We've had success at the Centeral American and Caribbean Games and next month, August, we will be heading back there," said Sumner.
He said the numbers have decreased over the years but the federation is finding ways to spark interest.
"We went into the schools and the new segments have attracted more females," shared Sumner. "So, yes, we've grown but we have also had our fair share of ups and downs. We are now working on ways to bring more people in."
Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF)
President Craig Kemp
"I think we're the youngest federation formed," said Kemp.
In the past BBF was governed by the Bahamas Baseball Association and about 10 years ago the federation was formed.
"Our focus is making the athletes better and ensuring that baseball is played in the country. We have grown tremendously from the day of inception."
The BBF's most notable tournament is the nationals, named after Andre Rodgers, one of the country's most outstanding players who went on to play in the major leagues in the U.S.
"Our nationals have grown from 12 teams to about 44 or 46 teams now. We never had an accurate count of teams that were playing back then or the number of players that were professional players. Looking back at history, we can tell you that we did have professional players and they have excelled. That has paved the way for so many of our younger players who are looking to move into the professional ranks. Antoan Richardson is just one of our professional players," said Kemp.
Over the past 10 years the federation has assisted players with obtaining scholarships to attend college, universities and high schools in the United States.
"That is something we are very proud of," Kemp boasted. "Many of these players came up through the leagues under the umbrella. Our junior league is very strong. Yes, we had a decline in the sport but it has nothing to do with the fact that we don't have any stadium. We had a void for about two decades where there was very little organized baseball being played."
There are some who argue that high school sports in The Bahamas, particularly here in New Providence, lost some of its competitive nature and some of its luster since the teacher's strike of 1986, but few can deny that it has played an integral part of the sustained development of the youth of this country.
That year saw the separation of the public and private school sporting programs into two separate bodies, ceasing the frequent matches and rivalries between the two entities here in New Providence. Be that as it may, interest certainly didn't fall off.
High school sports here in The Bahamas have produced Olympic and World Champions, such as Tonique Williams-Darling, who got her start athletically at St. John's College on Bethel Avenue.
Currently, the sporting curriculum includes team sports such as basketball, volleyball and soccer in the primary school sector, and all three disciplines along with softball in the high schools. Individually, athletics has drawn the most attention in both primary and secondary schools, and has experienced the most success.
The cry for baseball in the school system continues to ring out, but for the most part, it appears that it is falling on deaf ears. The Ministry of Education, through its sports unit, experimented with baseball in the schools a few years back, but apparently, the ministry experienced difficulty fitting it into the after-school sports curriculum and sustaining consistent league play. The program fizzled out, but thankfully, through the various leagues under the umbrella of the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF), youth baseball is as vibrant as it has ever been in The Bahamas, and scholarship opportunities are endless.
In basketball, Bahamian high schools have produced some of the best young players in the region. Despite not experiencing the same success on the senior side, on the junior level, The Bahamas has advanced to the FIBA Americas Championships on four separate occasions - all four in the past 12 years. The country hasn't advanced further, but no other Caribbean country can lay claim to that level of success. Numerous college stars and professional athletes surfaced out of that success on the junior side. Girls' basketball hasn't been nearly as successful as the boys', but the program is steadily on the rise. In the various high school leagues around the country, the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons, the C.I. Gibson Rattlers, the St. Augustine's College Big Red Machine and the Westminster College Diplomats have been perennial powerhouses.
Soccer in the high school system has been dominated by the St. Andrew's Hurricanes and Queen's College Comets in the private school sector, and the C.C. Sweeting Cobras and C.R. Walker Knights in the public schools sector. Just recently, a number of young women, many of whom are still in high school, made history for the country when they became the first team from The Bahamas to advance to the CONCACAF Championships. That under-17 national team entered the CONCACAF Championships as the number three team in the Caribbean behind Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, and during the tournament, was able to play the top ranked Caribbean nation Trinidad to a scoreless draw.
The sporting disciplines of volleyball and softball have struggled to produce regional champions in the 39 years of The Bahamas' Independence, but the competition here at home is as intense as it ever was, and the interest continues to grow.
The sporting discipline of athletics has produced World and Olympic Champions on all levels for The Bahamas. Just last year, a youth team from The Bahamas, consisting mostly of Bahamian high school students, produced the best ever finish for The Bahamas at a world level event. Team Bahamas returned from the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France, with three gold medals and one bronze - the best ever collective finish for The Bahamas.
As if that wasn't enough, the team traveling to the World Junior Championships is expected to be just as successful, if not more successful. The World Junior Championships get started on Independence Day and will continue until July 15.
Hence, this Independence Day is expected to bring a period of true national pride for Bahamians. A junior team is in Barcelona, Spain, preparing for the World Junior Championships, and in a couple weeks, a 20-plus member team will depart for the Olympic Games in London, England.
Both teams are expected to fare well, and bring recognition and prestige to this tiny nation of just 39 years of age - The Bahamas.
Margaret Albury-Higgs added another gold to the country's medal count, yesterday, capturing the 100 breaststroke event, in the girls 11-12 division, at the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships (CISC), in Savaneta, Aruba.
The Bahamas has won 12 gold, five silver and four bronze medals, with a handful of finals left to go, at the regional swimming championships. The Bahamas was represented in about five finals last evening. The first gold medal in Wednesday's evening session, picked up by Albury-Higgs, was done in 1:21.46. She out-swam Junice Martin and Victoria Acosta who touched the wall in 1:24.64 and 1:24.88 respectively. The time posted by Albury-Higgs was an improvement from the one she turned in during the preliminary rounds.
Another Bahamian heading into the final with the fastest time was Leslie Campbell. However, she had to settle for silver, later that day, after Nina Ebensperger of Puerto Rico, out-touched her. The winning time was 1:10.41 and Campbell's time was 1:10.57.
Finishing just shy of a medal yesterday were Joanna Evans and Dionisio Carey. Evans placed fourth in the 100 free for girls 13-14. Her time was 1:01.33. Capturing the gold was Sariyah Sherry of Barbados. Ariana Carrasquillo and Rebecca Maduro finished second and third respectively.
Winning the 100 backstroke for boys 13-14 was Jabari Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago. Carey was fourth in 1:05.62. Baptiste stopped the clock at 1:01.71. Also in that race, for The Bahamas, was Meshach Roberts. He finished eighth overall in 1:08.98.
In the preliminary rounds, Evans swam 1:02.57 while Carey posted the second best time in his heat. Evante Gibson was sixth overall in the 100 breaststroke, in 1:10.25.
Joanna Evans advanced to the final of the 100 free, in the girls 13-14 division, in a time of 1:02.57. Sherry had the fastest time, 1:01.81, and Rebecca Maduro posted a time of 1:02.30. Campbell just missed out on the final. She was ninth overall in a time of 1:06.09. No Bahamian advanced to the final of the boys 100 free. Competing in the preliminary rounds were Gershwin Greene and Farion Cooper, with times of 57.81 seconds and 59.21 seconds respectively.
Megan Reid was ninth in the 50 free for girls 11-12 and Celia Campbell was 11th. Reid's time was 30.05 seconds and Campbell finished in 30.66 seconds. Clement Bowe swam 28.19 seconds for ninth overall in the 50 free.
Simone Sturrup moved on to the final of the 200 Individual Medley (IM) for girls 13-14. Sturrup posted a time of 2:46.78 and Candis Pique of Suriname marched into the final with the fastest time, 2:37.21. The results from the final were unavailable up to press time.
So far, Albury-Higgs has won a bronze in the 200 IM and a gold in the 200 breaststroke. Evans picked up gold in the 200 free and gold in the 800 free. You can call Sturrup the "golden girl" of the meet, as she has won gold medals in the 50 butterfly, 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
A gold, silver and bronze was collected, so far, by Jenna Chaplin. Her medals came in the 200 butterfly, 100 butterfly and 200 free, respectively. Bria Deveaux added two silver medals and a bronze to her medal haul. She placed second in the 50 and 100 backstroke. The bronze came in the 50 free. Taryn Smith won't be out-performed, as she too captured medals at the championships, winning a gold in the 200 butterfly and a bronze in the 100 butterfly.
The boys 18-and-over team got a silver in the freestyle relay and the girls 13-14 squad picked a gold in the 400 free relay. Another gold was won by Carey in the 50 backstroke and Miriam Crispo secured a bronze in the 200 butterfly.
A final medal count and overall ranking for Team Bahamas was unavailable up to press time. The championships wrapped up yesterday.
LONDON, England - When one thinks about the fastest Bahamian woman this year, the names Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, Anthonique Strachan and Chandra Sturrup might come to mind. However, they have all been trumped by the "silent assassin" Sheniqua Ferguson.
The diminutive but powerful Ferguson opened her season with a stunning 11.07 clocking in Auburn, Alabama, to put the world on notice that she has arrived and is about to explode on the senior scene. Two weeks before she ran that personal best time in the 100m, she set her personal best time in the 200m, clocking 22.64 seconds, also in Auburn.
The 22-year-old sprinter had her "coming out party" this year, and now has a realistic shot of qualifying for the finals in both short sprints at the 30th Olympic Games in London, England.
"It feels really good to make the Olympic team again. Going into these Olympics, I look forward to competing but also doing better than I did in 2008," said Ferguson in an interview. "That was my first Olympics, and I did my best, but the nerves were there because it was my first Olympics. I grew up a lot. I feel that this time, I could make it to the final. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes."
Ferguson certainly has matured into a world class sprinter. Along with youngsters like Anthonique Strachan and Shaunae Miller, they have taken the baton from the "Golden Girls" and have carried it well. Ferguson-McKenzie and Chandra Sturrup are still on the scene, but there's no doubt that the future of Bahamian female sprinting lies in the hands, or rather the feet, of up-and-coming athletes like Ferguson, Strachan and Miller.
As mentioned earlier, Ferguson has been the fastest of the lot this year, though. Her specialty over the years has really been the 200m, but after running 11.07 in her first 100m race of the year, she figures to be a realistic threat in that event here in London as well.
"When I ran that 11.07 in April, it came as a surprise to me because I wasn't looking to run so fast so early in the season," said Ferguson. "I knew I was going to run fast this year, but it came very early, and I felt that it only could get better from there. Unfortunately, I had a little injury at nationals, but training has been going very well and now I'm ready to run. I just have to sharpen up on a few things and get ready for competition."
As a teenager in 2008, Ferguson made it to the semi-finals of the women's 200m in her first Olympic experience. The former World Junior Champion in the event has her sights set on the final here in London. She'll certainly have her hands full as both the United States and Jamaica are coming three deep in both short sprints, and then there are other sprinters like Trinidad's Kelly Ann-Baptiste, and Blessing Okagbare, from Nigeria, who could make their presence felt as well.
Round one of the women's 100m will be held Friday, and the semi-finals and final are set for Saturday. The first round of the women's 200m is set for Monday, August 6, the semi-finals will take on Tuesday, August 7, and the final is set for Wednesday, August 8.
The Bahamas had another strong showing on the fourth night of competition at the 20th Caribbean Island Swimming Championships (CISC), which wrapped up last night in Wildey, Barbados.
Particularly strong in the 50 meters (m) breaststroke events, The Bahamas added 113 points to its total on Sunday night, winning nine more medals - two gold, four silver and three bronze. The country now has 35 total medals - nine gold medals, 11 silver and 15 bronze; the team remains in fourth place, with 480 points.
Puerto Rico continues to lead the competition with 838 points, Trinidad and Tobago is second with 639 points and host country Barbados is still third with 551 points. The Bahamas is fourth, and Aruba rounds out the top five nations with 336 points.
Margaret Albury Higgs, regarded as the best swimmer in her age group, continues
to lead by example. She set another meet record, her fourth in total, in the 13-14 girls' 50m breast event. Albury Higgs swam a time of 34.99 seconds to win the gold medal and set the new record. It was her fourth gold medal of the meet and her fourth CISC record.
The other gold medal from The Bahamas on the fourth night of swimming came from Izaak Bastian in the 11-12 boys' 50m breast. Bastian finished tied with Brandon Cheong, of Aruba, both swimming 33.45 seconds. Daniel Chevere, of Puerto Rico, won the bronze medal, in 34.06 seconds.
The four silver medals for The Bahamas on Sunday night came from Laura Morley in the 15-17 girls' 50m breast (34.73 seconds), Virginia Stamp in the 11-12 girls' 200m back (2:37.00), the 11-12 boys' 800m free relay team of Samuel Gibson, T'Lez Foulkes, Izaak Bastian and Darren Laing (9:11.67), and the 15-17 boys' 400m medley relay team of Dionisio Carey, Drew Bastian, N'Nhyn Fernander and Kohen Kerr (4:04.21).
The three bronze medals for The Bahamas on Sunday night came from Drew Bastian in the 15-17 boys' 50m breast (31.30 seconds), Peter Morley in the 11-12 boys' 200m back (2:29.91) and the 11-12 girls' 800m free relay team of Tenniya Martin, Amber Pinder, Cecily Bowe and Virginia Stamp (10:00.02).
The final night of competition was last night, but the results were unavailable up to press time.
The Bahamas' 30-member team is scheduled to return home today.
Scheduled for Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23, The Bahamas' Olympic and World Junior Championships Trials should be one of the best national events ever. The meet will also serve as a qualifier for the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Championships, which will take place the second week in July in Mexico. Less than two weeks before the meet, there are 17 athletes who have made Olympic qualifying standards.
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie should clash with Sheniqua Ferguson and Anthonique Strachan. Ferguson-McKenzie has run 11.09 seconds in the 100 meters (m). She ran 22.76 seconds, last year, in the 200m. Sheniqua Ferguson, on the other hand, has run personal best times in the 100m (11.07) and 200m (22.64). Chandra Sturrup made the final of the 60m at the World Indoor Championships and has run sparingly since.
Anthonique Strachan has run 11.22 seconds for a personal best and 22.75 seconds in the 200m. Last year, she ran 22.70 seconds. Shaunae Miller has dropped her personal best in the 100m to 11.41 seconds, in the 200m to 22.70 seconds, and in the 400m to 51.24 seconds this season. She will be attempting to better her 400m time on the way to the World Juniors in Barcelona, Spain. Whether she will run in any other event is not known at this time.
World 2007 silver medalist in the 100m Derrick Atkins is back. Over the weekend at the USATF National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, Atkins ran 10.09 seconds, his best performance in years. At the NCAA Championships, Warren Fraser ran 10.18 seconds. Both performances are London qualifiers. There are several young sprinters such as Shavez Hart and Jonathan Farquharson who may make a run for all the marbles as they attempt to make the Olympic 4x100m relay team.
Women's long jump
Long jumper Bianca Stuart made the final of the IAAF World Indoor Championships this March. Her 6.66m (21' 10-1/4") jump this season at the Prefontaine Classic demonstrates that she is ready to break her 6.81m (22' 4-1/4") national record set last year.
Athletes will also be attempting to make the 4x100m relay squad. At present, The Bahamas sits tied for 17th, without Ferguson-McKenzie running with the team this season. Only 16 teams will run at the Olympic Games.
The race of the championships should be the men's 400m again this year. For the last two seasons, Demetrius Pinder has won this event. Pinder won the silver medal in the World Indoors in March, and Chris Brown the bronze. Brown recently defeated Pinder in the Prefontaine Classic. In Saturday's NYC Diamond League meet Brown finished in third place in 45.35 seconds and Pinder did not show.
Michael Mathieu, who established a new national record in the 200m, at 20.16 seconds, has the best time in the 400m this season at 45.06 seconds. Brown has the second best time at 45.14 seconds, Pinder the third best time at 45.15 seconds and Ramon Miller, last year's runner-up, has the fourth best at 45.48 seconds. All four have made the Olympic 'A' standard and only three can run in London. Mathieu indicated he will concentrate on the 200m in London.
The Bahamas will be assembling a men's 4x400m relay squad for London. The Bahamas won the silver medal in this event in Beijing. The contenders will make every effort to secure their spot on the team, thus making it a swift 400m to determine the top six.
Men's high jump
In the high jump, both Donald Thomas and Trevor Barry cleared 2.32m (7' 7-1/2") last year. Thomas is the 2007 World Champion with a best of 2.35m (7' 8-3/4") in 2007, and Barry, the 2011 bronze medalist with a best of 2.32m (7' 7-1/2"). A young Ryan Ingraham has cleared 2.28m (7' 6") and plans to challenge both.
Barry finished second in the Rome Diamond League with a 2.31m (7' 7") jump, the best of the Bahamians this season. At the NYC Diamond League on Saturday Barry finished third, again with a 2.31m (7' 7") jump showing that he is ready to jump. Thomas has cleared a best of 2.27m (7' 5-1/2") this outdoor season. This should be quite an exciting competition as it comes with bragging rights.
Men's long jump
Raymond Higgs, once a high jumper, has soared 8.15m (26' 9"), a 'B' London standard last year in the long jump and 8.07m (26' 5-3/4") this season. The sophomore at Arkansas has the longest jump in the world this year, 8.36m (27' 5-3/4") with a 3.4 mps wind reading. Rudon Bastian has a wind aided (2.3 mps) jump of 8.00m (26' 3"). Higgs finished third in last weekend's NCAA Championships at Drake University with an 8.05m (26' 5") performance.
Men's triple jump
Leevan Sands has a 16.99m (55' 9") jump in the triple jump this season, done at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, and a 17.21m (56' 5-3/4") jump last year in Daegu. The Beijing bronze medalist holds the national record of 17.59m (57' 8-3/4"). IAAF World Youth Champion Latario Collie-Minns will tune up for the World Juniors by taking on Sands. Collie-Minns has a best of 16.55m (54' 3-3/4") done last year and has jumped 16.47m (54' 1/2") this season.
Women's 100m hurdles
Arkansas' Ivanique Kemp made quite a historic breakthrough last week in the 100m hurdles. At the NCAA Championships, Kemp smashed her national record of 13.20 seconds with a blazing 13.13 seconds, which is a 'B' London qualifier. Never in the history of Bahamian track and field, has a female made the qualifying standard for a hurdles event.
Men's 400m hurdles
At the NCAA Championships in Iowa last week, Nathan Arnett ran 50.53 seconds for 10th overall in the 400m hurdles. Grand Bahama's Jeffrey Gibson ran 50.72 seconds for 12th. Arnett has a best of 50.27 seconds. Gibson has a best of 50.69 seconds. Last year Gibson upset Arnett in Grand Bahama. We await the result of this clash.
Whichever athlete sets a new national record, and is not subjected to NCAA rules, will win $2,000 for his or her feat.
Bahamas Olympic Committee team
Once again, we must note that the Olympic team is the responsibility of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) who alone can ratify the team. The BAAA can only recommend the team based upon its performances. The BAAA alone has responsibility for the World Junior team and the NACAC Under-23 team.
Great performances and excitement
We encourage Bahamians from all walks of life to attend and encourage our athletes to perform well as they march on to London, Mexico and Barcelona. They will be thrilled and pleased and will never forget the excitement and great performances for years to come.