Vanderpool-Wallace moves to top in Bahamian history
Phenomenal performers who cast wide shadows over peers of their eras often reign supreme for generations.
When will there be another Bahamian international sailor deserving of being talked about on a comparable basis with Sir Durward Knowles?That probably will not happen at any time in the life of many still on this side of eternity.
Sir Durward’s situation is rare. He was one of the best in the world and blessed also with incredible longevity. There are other sports icons, great achievers who are of Hall of Fame caliber like Sir Durward, but they have had to make room for fellow Bahamians who followed.
During the early 1950s, Leonard’Skeeter’Dames, Tex Lunn, Bob and Rinky Isaacs were the speed demons of track in The Bahamas. Then came a young chap named Thomas Augustus Robinson and from the mid-1950s until 1970 he was never beaten by another Bahamian.
He became a legend, but along came the Golden Girls and Derrick Atkins to heighten The Bahamas’sprint status with Olympic and World medals.
In 1953, Yama Bahama began the Bahamian international journey in boxing. He was followed three years later by his little cousin, Gomeo Brennan, and they blazed a fantastic trail in the sport for The Bahamas. Yama became the nation’s first prime time television sports star and Gomeo became the best middleweight boxer in the British Empire.
Yet, they had to move over when Elisha Obed came along and won a world title.
Sterling Quant became the first Bahamian to be drafted by a professional basketball team during the late 1960s. A decade later though, Mychal Thompson surfaced on the pro scene and won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Then, came Rick Fox(born in Canada to a Bahamian father, and who spent his early years growing up in this country). He won three NBA titles and both Quant and Thompson had to move aside.
Kingsley Poitier won a Mr. World bodybuilding title during the early 1960s. However, he was quickly followed by Glen Wells and Tony Carroll, who achieved world stardom as well.
Indeed, while Sir Durward’s case is unique, the changing of the guard is nothing new in Bahamian sports. Now, it has happened in swimming.
Jeremy Knowles was once head and shoulder above all other swimmers in the history of the country. He was the greatest junior swimmer and won a World University bronze medal. He became clearly world class.
He never quite made it to the medal stand however in one of the world’s premier competitions(FINA Worlds or the Olympics). Yet, he was the best Bahamian swimmer for decades. Now, he has to step aside and make room for a dazzling mermaid of a swimmer by the name of Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace. The seven medals she captured earlier this year at the Central American and Caribbean Games, to go along with her outstanding collegiate career(although the 20-year-old is still just a junior at Auburn)had already in the minds of some brought her at least abreast with Knowles.
Now though, with her bronze medal at the 10th FINA World Short Course Championships in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates this past Sunday, Vanderpool-Wallace has stepped to the front in Bahamian swimming history. She is our first medalist at that lofty level and the sky seems the limit for her. She clocked 24.04 seconds to lower her national record and win the bronze medal in Dubai.
Congratulations Arianna!You’ve earned your stripes.