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BAAA sets date for awards luncheon

Culminating what has been one of its finest years, performance wise, in the history of athletics in The Bahamas, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) will stage its year-ending awards luncheon in less than three weeks at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort on Cable Beach.  The 13th annual awards presentation, which will be held under the patronage of veteran quarter-miler Chris ‘The Fireman’ Brown, is set for Sunday, December 18, at 2:00 p.m.

Brown, who is expected in town the morning of the event, said that he is honored to be recognized in this fashion.  He has been competing for The Bahamas since 1997 and is the reigning IAAF World Indoor Champion in the men’s 400 meters (m).  Brown, who hails from Eleuthera, holds Bahamian national records in both the 400m and 800m.

“It’s a blessing and I definitely embrace it,” he said from Atlanta, Georgia yesterday.  “I feel pretty good.  I appreciate the BAAA recognizing me and my accomplishments over the years.  I think that my resume speaks for itself in terms of what I have been doing for The Bahamas over the years. I’m just glad that they’re recognizing me in this fashion.  The Lord has been blessing me in a lot of ways.  I have been blessed with a long and great career, and to be honored like this motivates me to continue, and also to help the youth of the nation to develop.  Hard work is certainly the key to success and if you put your all into it, someone is going to recognize your hard work.  To receive this recognition makes me feel good and it lets me know that my work hasn’t been in vain,” he added.

Despite a few hiccups, primarily at the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Outdoor Championships in Daegu, South Korea, The Bahamas had an exceptional year in international competition.  The IAAF World youth team had arguably the best collective performance ever for a Bahamian national squad; the CARIFTA team won the country’s most gold medals since 2008 and had the country’s first Austin Sealey winner in 16 years, and the Sr. Central American and Caribbean (CAC) squad won a whopping 10 medals and returned with a national record.

According to BAAA Public Relations Officer Alpheus ‘Hawk’ Finlayson, this awards luncheon will provide an opportunity for the organization to celebrate the successes of the 2011 track and field season and present various awards to athletes, coaches and officials.

“Athletes competed all around the world this year, from the British Virgin Islands to Daegu, South Korea, from Miramar, Florida to Lille, France, and from Montego Bay, Jamaica to Guadalajara, Mexico and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico,” said Finlayson.  “At the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France, The Bahamas placed fourth behind the United States, Kenya, and Jamaica.  Numerous awards will be given out including the Charlie Major ‘Athlete of the Year’ Award for the top Bahamian track and field athlete for 2011.  This will be a great opportunity for the track and field community to get together, especially those athletes living abroad,” he added.

Over 100 athletes competed for The Bahamas in international competitions this year, winning 50 individual medals – 19 gold, 14 silver and 17 bronze, and 14 relay medals – three gold, two silver and nine bronze.  At the IAAF World Youth Championships in particular, The Bahamas won four medals – three gold and a bronze – and placed fourth out of 211 countries.

“The program that we have been asked to administer is very deep,” said longtime BAAA sponsor Harrison Petty.  “We are looking at kids from age 11 straight on up to the late thirties.  We are happy to be in a position to ensure that athletes are able to travel to all these competitions around the world.  It is an awesome responsibility and an awesome task.”

BAAA President Mike Sands thanked his executive team, sponsors, coaches, parents and the athletes themselves for making 2011 a truly successful year in track and field.

“We are grateful to the executive team, our sponsors and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.  Together, we were able to raise over $700,000 to ensure that our athletes had the opportunities to compete all over the world this year,” said Sands.  “We just want to implore the public to support this event so that we can give the athletes and the coaches the recognition that they deserve for an excellent year in track and field, and as we look ahead to the London Olympics next year,” he added.

This year, a new category – Overall Junior Athlete of the Year – was created to honor the most outstanding junior athlete.  That athlete could still be eligible for the Charlie Major ‘Athlete of the Year’ Award, but would have had to perform exceptionally well, in comparison to senior athletes, on the international stage.  The Overall Junior Athlete of the Year Award will be named in honor of CAC Hall of Fame member Dr. Bernard J. Nottage, who has made an immense contribution to the development of track and field in this country.  The selection of all of the award winners will be made by an independent body.  Tickets for the event can be purchased from the BAAA office at the old Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium, the Colony Club on St. Alban’s Drive, the Prescription Parlour Pharmacy on East Street South, or from any BAAA executive member or luncheon committee member.

The theme of the luncheon is ‘Celebrating our Youth in Athletics’ and the master of ceremonies will be David Wallace.

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