After sweeping his way into office with his GOAT (greatest of all time) Team last November, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer is excited about the prospect of 2019, and what it has to offer.
In his first full year in office, Archer is anticipating more corporate support, infrastructural work, athletes, coaches and administrators working together, and the desired results on and off the track. The first major meet of 2019 for his administration is the upcoming CARIFTA Games, set for April 20-22 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. As always, the junior regional meet will be held over the Easter holidays.
So far, athletes have achieved 18 qualifying marks for the CARIFTA Games. Last year, The Bahamas was represented by 80 athletes at home – the most ever for a Bahamian team at CARIFTA. That team finished second behind perennial champions Jamaica, collecting 35 total medals – six gold, 14 silver and 15 bronze.
With more stringent qualifying marks in place, Archer expects this year’s number to be much smaller, in terms of participation. However, he expects the performances to be just as strong if not stronger.
“I am less concerned about the showing but very optimistic as to where we are in terms of preparation,” said Archer. “What is important for me is for us to put the infrastructure in place that allows us to grow in a sustainable way. For that to happen, we have to take a very careful look at our program and where the deficiencies lie so that we could plug those holes before we could even talk about results.
“I have never stopped walking the plank, I have never stopped talking to the coaches and I have never stopped following the athletes. I understand where we are and I understand what we could offer in this season. Once we carry a healthy team to CARIFTA, I believe that we could shock the world.”
In recent years, the standards were in line with the sixth place results from the previous CARIFTA Games. Archer said that it is their intention to improve those standards up to the third place results, and in a gradual move, they have collectively decided to use the average times and distances of the fourth place finishes from the past three CARIFTA Games, this year.
“There are some changes and we embrace that. That might lead to a smaller team but then that will become the new norm. To make the team you have to be running at a particular level. Our training will reflect that, our talent searches become wider and we become better because of that,” said Archer. “For The Bahamas to be more competitive, we simply can’t impose the same standards. We have to force the coaches to do several things – we have to take a proactive approach where there is a deliberate, scientific way in which training takes place and those goals must be measurable. I am excited about the prospects. I believe that the number of qualifiers will double easily. So far, we have had some amazing performances and we expect that to continue with still a few meets to come before the CARIFTA Games.”
Both the government and private schools are yet to stage their track and field championships, and then there is also the CARIFTA trials on the horizon. High school athletes abroad and collegiate athletes will have opportunities to qualify at their respective school meets.
Overall, Archer said that the first three months in office has been a challenge for them but he expects the ride to get smoother and for them to gradually accomplish their goals.
“The transition has been manageable for us. We’ve been able to properly settle into office and we have a clear understanding as to where our rules lie,” said Archer. “I made a statement during my campaign to become president, stating that I will do everything that I can to make history for The Bahamas. I’m expecting that we will take home more medals in 2020 in the Tokyo Olympic Games than we have ever done at any Olympics. I stand by that statement and I look forward to us working toward that.”
Hundreds of young athletes from throughout the region are expected to compete at the 48th CARIFTA games this Easter holiday weekend in the Cayman Islands. The junior regional meet has been dominated by Jamaica since its inception with that island nation winning 42 of the 47 titles, including 34 straight dating back to 1985. The Bahamas has won four CARIFTA titles – 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984, and Bermuda has won the other one, in 1975.