Athletes who take country to great heights should be rewarded in kind
The subject today is East Grand Bahama native Demetrius Pinder.
Based on my interaction with him recently, the former National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion is down on his luck as an athlete. It is heart-wrenching to ponder Pinder’s situation.
Just a short while back, he was one of the finest 400 meters sprinters in the world, in my view, easily among the top 10. Pinder was riding high following the glittering, golden run by he and his teammates, (Chris Brown, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu) at the London Olympics of 2012.
Pinder came home for the 2013 Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational in April of that year. He travelled here with American standout Lashawn Merritt. Pinder opted to run the 200 meters race rather than his specialty, the 400 meters. In the race, coming home after negotiating the curve, about 60 meters from the finish, he was in a good position when he pulled up.
Pinder has never been the same. There was the one bright spot, as a part of the Bahamas 2016 Olympic bronze medal 1,600 meters relay squad, but otherwise, his career bogged down. Pinder complained when we communicated, about being dropped from the National Elite Athlete Subvention program.
According to Pinder, he had sought an explanation from his federation, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), but yet remained off the list. The truth be told, it would be difficult to make a good case for Pinder, based on the structure of the subvention program. If an athlete performs below standard or is out of action for a full year, representation needs to be made by the respective federation to the Ministry of Sports.
The ministry would have to be satisfied that despite the circumstances, the athlete in question, still deserves to be in the subvention program.
There is another side, however, which sporting federations and sports ministry personnel should contemplate.
Let’s use Pinder as an example.
He has been an incredible Bahamian sports ambassador. He is still only 29 and based on his experience, and elite international background, Pinder has value. More importantly though, this is the athlete who was an NCAA champion, as an outstanding collegiate athlete at Texas A&M University. His resume includes, along with the aforementioned Olympic medals: an IAAF world Indoor individual 400 meters silver medal; two World Relays silver medals; and a Central American and Caribbean relay silver medal.
No Bahamian should forget how really spectacular he was in 2012 at the Olympics in London. Because of the sensational overtaking effort of Miller against American Angelo Taylor, to hit the finish line first for The Bahamas; just about everything else about that magnificent joint effort has been upstaged.
For the record, I wish to point out that Pinder’s scintillating second leg gave The Bahamas the lead, and was perhaps the primary cornerstone of the race. He ran a blazing 43.3 leg, at that time, the seventh fastest split in Olympic history. Miller’s split was 43.8.
We must find meaningful ways, for those who have done so much for the country, to be revered and supported in a dignified manner throughout the rest of their lives. In other countries, athletes who have accomplished half of what Pinder achieved, are lifted up and held aloft forever.
Sadly, in The Bahamas, a world record hurdler such as Danny Smith is allowed to languish with no job offers; such as an Elisha Obed is not embraced in a subtantive way; Bert Perry dies a pauper, a very lonely man; Laverne Eve has no substantive role in national sports development; nor does Chandra Sturrup.
What will be the fate of the once glamorous sprinter Demetrius Pinder who brought glory to every Bahamian?
I submit that we must find a way, with continuity, to demonstrate appreciation to athletes who provide service of a high quality to the country.
Demetrius Pinder is a case in point.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.
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