Nation’s gymnastics matriarch Barbara Thompson passes on
I’ll always remember Barbara Thompson for the ability she had to be a dynamic sports leader in stark contrast to her low-key demeanor. In fact, her profound link to sports in The Bahamas has always been somewhat of a contradiction to other leadership styles. She had an enormous task at hand, but went about her sports development business extremely quietly.
The matriarch of organized gymnastics in The Bahamas died this week and she has left some huge footprints on the national sports scene. Filling them will be quite the challenge. She blanketed her passion better than anyone I ever met. Deeply devoted to cementing gymnastics into the organized mainstream of the national sports family, Thompson gave much of her life over the last four decades to the sport, in the most unassuming fashion.
She was extremely courteous, respectful, gracious, heart-warming and appreciative. She requested assistance with building and promoting gymnastics, but more often than not, the response was not exuberant. Nevertheless she carried on with a passion to contribute to nation building through sports, equaled by few.
For years,Thompson struggled with the national gymnastics program, which she fostered and sustained. She never really received the attention deserved, to best grow gymnastics in The Bahamas, but there are those like, the producer of Sports Scope, who have from the outset, appreciated her presence as a national sports leader.
One such other is Cora Hepburn, who served as vice president to Thompson on the gymnastics executive board and now is the acting president.
“I see Barbara Thompson as a contributor of the highest order. She gave abundantly to the development of gymnastics in this country, even though we got nothing, for the past six years from the ministry of sports. Other sports organizations got grants annually, but we got nothing. I spoke to the director of sports, Tim Munnings, about this and he talked about the conflict of the last two years in gymnastics. I asked him what about the four years before, but, this grand lady, Barbara Thompson carried on. I can tell you something in particular. When we went to the world gymnastics championships in 2015, yes, representing The Bahamas, Barbara had to come up with $20,000 of her own money to cover the team’s cost. That’s how dedicated she was. She covered that financial burden alone. Through the years, we would get small donations from businesses, houses, but for the most part, she undertook the financial burden of building the sport of gymnastics in the country,” said an emotional Hepburn, when we chatted on Thursday.
Hepburn’s passion toward the late iconic sports leader is understood. The national sports landscape has lost a vital development role player. As for Gymnastics Bahamas, it will be extremely difficult to find a replacement to provide the same kind of “total” support, given these many years by Thompson.
Perhaps the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC), in its new development outreach program, will do a lot to fill the void, even if, financial grant support from the sports ministry is not forthcoming. I extend condolences to Hepburn, the other friends, colleagues and family members of the late Barbara Thompson.
May her soul forever rest in peace!
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