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Once a giant… always a giant!

Former Olympic Champion Tonique Williams-Darling continues to give back to St. John’s College, the school where she started her track and field career.

The gold medalist in the women’s 400 meters (m) from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games hosted the 1st St. John’s College/TWD Cross Country event, this past Saturday. The meet, which she hopes to be a permanent fixture on the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) calendar, attracted more than 400 young athletes from various schools and track clubs throughout New Providence. Coaches from schools such as R.M. Bailey, C.C. Sweeting, L.W. Young, C.V. Bethel and St. John’s College, used the meet as a training session, hoping to get their athletes in shape before the start of the track and field season.

Runners were divided into five divisions, and the course stretched from one to four kilometers based on the age groups. Taking home top honors in the primary division was Cleveland Eneas. The L.W. Young Golden Eagles won the junior title, and the R.M. Bailey Pacers won the senior division.

Cleveland Eneas scored 23 points to win the Under-10 boys, the Giants had 13 points and runners from the TWD Track and Field Club scored 12 points. A total of 37 points were scored by members of the Striders Track and Field Club, giving them the win in the Under-12 girls division. Finishing second, with 17 points, was the Giants, who took the Under-12 boys division with 62 points. Cleveland Eneas placed second in that division with 10 points.

The A.F. Adderley Tigers won both the Under-13 girls and boys divisions with 33 and 15 points respectively. The Queen’s College Comets was second in the Under-13 girls and the T.A. Thompson Scorpions finished third. S.C. McPherson and the Giants both scored 14 points in the Under-13 boys, leaving the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves to settle for fourth, with 12 points.

The top school in the Under-15 girls division was the Scorpions with 27 points, the Giants team posted 21 and the Sun Blazers Track and Field Club had 12.

“We saw it fit to have an event, since no other private school actually hosts a cross country meet,” said Herbie Brown, the head coach for track and field at St. John’s College. “We knew the timing was right, so we joined up with alumnus Tonique Williams-Darling and put the event on. We had approximately 450 student-athletes. The turnout was far more than we expected. We thought that we would have anywhere from 250 to 300 participants for the first year, so we exceeded our expectations.”

As for former Olympian Williams-Darling, who said it is a pleasure to give back to St. John’s College and The Bahamas, hosting more events will only help the athletes.

“TWD is on the move, all of my athletes took part in the event,” she said. “It is just a joy to give back to a country and school that has done so much for you. The coaches and principal at St. John’s College approached me last year about hosting a meet. They really want to get their athletic program up and running again, so the first steps were taken last year and this is the final one made, hosting the event. This is just the first part of our initiative, getting the kids involved again. The future is bright for them in the sport and I love assisting them.”

Williams-Darling is the head coach in the TWD Track and Field Club. She plans to host a local and international meet next year.

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