Robinson’s sprint mantle passed to Johnson in’70
Thomas Augustus Robinson has constantly been a significant presence within the sports landscape of The Bahamas since his glorious performance in 1958 at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales.
Few other sports figures are on that level. Sir Durward Knowles of sailing fame is one of them. Being the lone Bahamian in Cardiff representing his country and having to do it all, compete(gold medal in the 220-yards and a silver in the 100-yards), motivate himself, attend functions on behalf of The Bahamas, became a great part of his legacy. However, it has been his strong passion to stay attached to sports that has endeared him so much in this country to members of the sports fraternity and all others.
On the other hand, many other sporting heroes have not gotten their just due. Once off the scene, almost always, contributors to the development process of this nation have been forgotten.
For instance, the following question would puzzle many within the sporting family of this country.
Who received the nation’s mantle of sprint leadership from Robinson when he officially retired in 1970?Was it Tom Grant?Bernard Nottage?Norris Stubbs?Clive Sands?Mike Sands?Rudy Levarity?
No, it was none of the above. It was Kevin Johnson.
Some 30 years ago or so, he left New Providence to reside in Grand Bahama and while there are those who remembered him over the years for his brilliance as a national sprint champion, a small percentage have connected him with the legacy link to Robinson.
Johnson had teamed with Robinson, Nottage and Stubbs to record the blistering(at the time)clocking of 39.4 seconds in the 4×100 meters(m)relay at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Following that Olympiad, Robinson never ran again and retired officially at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. Both Nottage and Stubbs phased out also.
Johnson’s career continued however, beating all local opponents and when Robinson strode off the track in Edinburgh, Scotland, clearly the best sprinter in the nation was Johnson. He later cemented that status before being dethroned by Mike Sands. Johnson considers the direct link to Robinson as”being very special.”
“I grew up knowing of Tommy and his sprinting credentials. I am from the Pond in the Eastern District and Tommy was just a bit down the road in Hawkins Hill, off Shirley Street, so I knew of him. Later on when I became a sprinter of some note, I was able to compete alongside him. We bonded and became friends. Today, we don’t see each other often, but the friendship is as strong as ever. To be the one who followed him as the best sprinter in the country will always be special for me,”said Johnson.
Johnson was in the capital over the year-end holiday period and spent sometime with the great one.
“It was the best Christmas season I have had in a long time,”said Johnson.
Indeed. He returned to Grand Bahama on Tuesday with fond memories of the hours spent reminiscing of past chapters in our sports history with Robinson.