Small Country Great Athletes - Sports and Nationhood
By Alpheus Finlayson, BAAA
Jul 13, 2011 - 12:32:40 PM
The Golden Girls
Ever since the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, Sports has been an
important ingredient in nationhood. So significant it was that all wars
ceased during the Games.
Since the rebirth of the Olympic Games in 1896 Sports has played a significant role in nationhood.
Nobody can forget the role of Adolf Hitler during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
take a look at the clashes between the Soviet Union and the United
States, whether it was basketball, hockey, or Track and Field. Take a
look at the sports machine of East Germany though fueled by steroids.
a look at Cuba to our south and their complete domination of the
Central American and Caribbean region, and the support of their number
one fan, Fidel Castro, who is usually seen now not in his green army
fatigues but in his Adidas outfit.
In each case, the thought of nationhood was at the back and usually at the front of their minds.
the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada the entire Caribbean and
Central America region was proud after Hasley Carwford of Trinidad &
Tobago won the 100m, Donald Quarrie of Jamaica won the 200m, and
Alberto Juantorena of Cuba won the 400m and 800m.
Santo Domingo, July 10th, 1981
Central American and Caribbean Sr. Track and Field Championships was
held in Santo Domingo during the period of the Bahamas’ eighth
anniversary of Independence. On the evening of our Independence Shonel
Ferguson won the Gold medal in the Long Jump.
The entire Bahamian group of fans was awaiting eagerly the Bahamian national anthem.
The medalists were lined up on the dias and over the loudspeakers came “
God Save Our Gracious Queen”.
was our independence day and we thought the authorities knew that.
After two more unsuccessful tries, Dr. Bernard Nottage took several
official and fans on the field and sang
“Lift Up Your Heads To The Rising Sun Bahamaland”.
years later to the date, July 10th 2011, Stephen Newbold won the 200m
in the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France. This was the
third time our national anthem was played in France.
The unbelievable success of our athletes in France gave The Bahamas a wonderful 38th Independence gift. And what a gift it was!
The Bahamas finished with four medals, three gold and one bronze on their way to a fourth place finish based on medals.
The United States won with sixteen medals, Kenya finished second with fourteen, and Jamaica third with nine.
was the first time that we are aware of twins winning medals in the
same world event. Latario Colle-Minns won gold and bronze in the Triple
Jump. They had been expected to win medals because or their dominance in
the Triple Jump throughout the season.
Shaunae Miller was
the talk of the town in Lille and was one of three athletes invited to
the IAAF Opening Press Conference. As the reigning IAAF World Junior
Champion of the 400m much was expected.
Miller did not
disappoint as she added the World Youth gold to her collection of
medals. Shaunae was also one of the few athletes invited to the IAAF
post event Closing Press Conference.
surprise was Stephen Newbold, who had switched to the 200m after winning
the bronze medal in this year’s Carifta Games 400m. His coach explained
that they felt he had a better chance of winning a medal in the 200m.
Coach David Charlton was right on as Newbold went on to not just medal,
but win the event in a personal best time.
When we look
back through recent Bahamian history we know the patriotic feelings we
had when Sir Durward Knowles and Sloane Farrington won the Olympic
bronze medal in sailing in 1956 and when he and Cecil Cooke won the gold
medal in 1964 in Tokyo.
We can remember when Tommy Robinson won the 220 yards at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales.
We can remember when Elisha Obed won the World Championships in boxing in Paris in 1975.
We remember vividly when The Bahamas placed third in the Carifta Games in Nassau in 1976.
remember when The Bahamas won the Carifta Games for the first time in
Bermuda in 1980. We also remember repeating that victory in Nassau in
1981. We remember the unbelievable fifty-eight medals by The Bahamas in
winning the 1984 Games.
We all remember that August Monday
in 1992 when Frank Rutherford jumped into Bahamian history in winning
the bronze medal in the Triple Jump in Barcelona, the first Bahamian
Olympic medal in Track and Field.
Every Bahamian can
remember what they were doing the morning of the women’s 400m relay in
Sydney when The Bahamas Golden Girls won the gold. Many Bahamians still
have goose bumps when the see film clips of the race.
The national pride that is brought out during and because of these events is unbelievable.
more is in store for sports in these beautiful islands. Everybody is
awaiting the 2012 London Olympic Games, where The Bahamas is expected to
win medals again, and win the Games on a per-capita basis.
London will be full of Bahamian flags next summer.
before London our junior Track and Field stars have another opportunity
to shine on the world scene. Interesting enough, it will be back in
Barcelona, the site of the Bahamas’ first Olympic Track and Field medal.
All those athletes who participated over this independence in Lille,
along with some athletes like Anthonique Strachan, Austin Sealy Award
winner for 2011, and High Jumper supreme Ryan Ingraham, will be eligible
for the 2012 Barcelona World Junior Championships.
enough, several of them have already qualified for the London Olympics,
and some others will have qualified by that time.
year the new Thomas Robinson National Stadium will be operational. This
gives us the opportunity for Bahamians to see their best at home.
The future for nationhood through sports is very bright.
know the nation is proud right now. Enjoy it and help the athletes
continue to demonstrate the slogan by a German sports historian, “The
Bahamas, Small Country, Great Athletes”!
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