Surrounded by cheering well-wishers waving Bahamian flags, Olympic gold medalist and Diamond League winner Shaunae Miller-Uibo arrived at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture for a courtesy call on the new minister, Lanisha Rolle. She was greeted by Junkanoo music and a bevy of supporters.
Minister Rolle told those gathered that “many athletes have performed virtuously, (but) today we welcome home the one, who in this season, excels them all.”
Among those present and bringing greetings throughout the festivities were Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Rhoda Jackson, Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary and Director of Youth Darron Turnquest, Director of Sports Timothy Munnings, Director of Culture Rowena Poitier-Sutherland, Coordinator for the Sports Unit at the Ministry of Education Evon Wisdom, and other senior government officials. Shaunae’s husband Maicel Uibo and father Shaun Miller also spoke.
There was also a musical serenade, bouquet and portrait presentation by two internationally-renowned and award-winning Bahamians – recording artist Julien Believe and visual artist Jamaal ‘The Celebrity Artist’ Rolle, respectively. Wildflowers Events and Occasions created the bouquet. The Courtyard Marriott presented Miller-Uibo with a “lifetime” stay certificate.
Minister Rolle said that The Bahamas is respected for its world-class status in the discipline of track and field, and, over the years, multiple disciplines in the sporting arena.
“The mark of this country and its people will forever be engraved in the annals of world sports history, as a small country that produces great people and does great things,” Minister Rolle said. “Today, we are still moving forward. Repeated gold medals, consistent world records, dazzling performances, extraordinary team work and undisputed winning titles.”
Rolle added that from the country’s first Olympians in 1948, “sailing giants” the late Sir Durward Knowles and Sloane Farrington – with Sir Durward later becoming the Olympic Champion in 1964 in Tokyo, Japan, to Thomas A. Robinson making the first Olympic final on the track, to 1976, when her political colleague Shonel Ferguson entered the Olympic stage to represent the country in sprints and long jump, there has been continued success.
Minister Rolle also pointed to the “captivating experience” of the Golden Girls of 2000 during the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the “extraordinary demonstration of teamwork” by the Golden Knights of 2012, and added “the unforgettable and stellar performances of Tonique Williams-Darling; to the spectacular serves of our tennis Olympian Mark Knowles; the amazing sprints of our swimming darling Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, and a host of other great Bahamian athletes, that The Bahamas is indeed a great nation.”
She said: “This small island state has a sporting track record bar none, and today we stand proudly on the shoulders of these great men and women who have sealed, and continue to seal for our country, a reputation of greatness, and remain a force to be reckoned with on any stage. It is my humble yet considered opinion, that today, we have surpassed the gold, with our Shaunae, we have made it platinum. With the help of the Almighty God, there is no stopping us now.”
Minister Rolle told those in attendance that her ministry and, in particular, the division of sports, was pleased to “welcome home” Miller-Uibo.
“From Shaunae – the primary school runner to Shaunae the high school champion, Shaunae – the junior and senior girls star of the team, Shaunae – national record holder, Shaunae – regional superstar, then Shaunae – the international newcomer, and now, Shaunae – world-leading athlete to Shaunae, our daughter of the Bahamian soil – for your excellence in service to country, Shaunae – we salute you,” Minister Rolle declared. “Indeed, with grace, tenacity, endurance, agility and discipline, you have kept focused and you have made us proud.”
Minister Rolle pointed out that Miller-Uibo managed to return home unbeaten this season.
“We encourage you to continue to challenge yourself, to continue to set new goals and records for your Bahamian counterparts to utilize as a benchmark, to continue to be that example for your siblings, and for those around you, especially the athletes who look up to you and who will follow,” Minister Rolle said. “Continue to make your family proud and serve your country with pride, and most of all, continue to be you. Shaunae, I want you to know that more than your performances, this nation loves you and appreciates you,” she added. “Win or lose, we are your lifetime fans, on your good days or your not so good days, we are your devoted cheerleaders, for now and always. We wish you the very best.”
Minister Rolle told Miller-Uibo that it was essential for her to state that the country celebrates her at the peak of her career, and the nation will always remember what she has done for it.
She said: “Shaunae, your performance, and that of your sporting colleagues, in particular, Donald Thomas and Steven Gardiner – both of whom are individually and collectively making great strides on the world stage – have inspired this year’s theme for National Sports Month to be celebrated in November: ‘Ain’t no Stoppin’ us Now – We’re on the Move!’.
“I wish to say here that we look forward to the participation and support of all our available athletes both past and present, as the country pauses to recognize and celebrate our heroes of sports, then and now. That being said, on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and, in particular the sports division of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, we welcome home, ‘our Shaunae’ with this chant: Go Shaunae, Go! Go Shaunae, Go! Go Shaunae, Go!”
Miller-Uibo is set to make a few public appearances this week before returning to Orlando, Florida, USA, on Sunday.
Jump Line – Minister Rolle said Bahamian athletes will be further celebrated during National Sports Month in November.