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Canada Games medal features design by young Bahamian

When winners of the 2011 Canada Games don their medals next month, a little piece of The Bahamas will be dangling from their necks or at least, the signature of a young Bahamian.

Amber Whyley, a Bahamian student who studied at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, won the medal design competition for the Games, along with her creative partner Marlon Solis.

The duo learned of their success last July, about two months after submitting their design.

“They e-mailed me early in the morning,”said Whyley, 24, of getting the news.”I had just woken up and I read that email and I thought I was still dreaming. They told us our design was chosen as the NumberOne medal design and we beat 90 other submissions.”

Over 1,000 champion athletes will wear the winning designs throughout the Games, to be held in Nova Scotia from February 11 27.

Whyley said that the committee was surprised and pleased to learn that she and Solis, both Marketing students at the university, were also immigrants. Solis grew up in Indonesia.

“They were surprised and proud to know that two immigrants came into Canada and just took a step up and just designed this…and just did it for fun,”she said.

An August 18 letter of congratulations from the Premier of the province, Darrell Dexter, echoed as much.

“You offer such an interesting point of view and are the perfect example of how diversity makes our province the special place it is,”Dexter wrote.

The letter was one of various communications of congratulations and press announcements regarding Whyley and Solis’accomplishment.

In a video on the Canada Games 2011 website the duo explain their motivations and design process. In addition to the stipulated regulations for the design, Whyley and Solis sought to include symbols like the Celtic knot and the St. Andrew’s Cross that represent the province.

Said Whyley in her interview with the Guardian:”When we finished the sketches, which I did, and incorporated that into Photoshop and put a little color into it, I realized that we had submitted a really, really good piece, and I knew that we would place, but I had no idea honestly that we would actually win the grand prize.”

The exercise has renewed her interest in the arts. Whyley graduated from St. Mary’s University in October with a degree in Commerce and Marketing, and hopes to study graphic arts in the near future.

“I’m glad I entered this competition because it reminded me how much I really loved the arts, and I enjoyed doing it with a really good friend who shares that passion as well,”she said.

Whyley also appreciated the opportunity to learn about the Canada Games, an event she likened to the various sporting events that young Bahamian athletes compete in with Olympic hopes.

“It reminded me a lot of what our young people go through with CARIFTA and the BAAAs(Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations)and the process of what a true athlete goes through at a young age before they become the big stars,”she said.

“I just want to encourage Canadians and Bahamians alike to continue supporting the young people,”she added.

Whyley returns to Canada this month to continue promoting the Games with her design partner and as partof an official committee.

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