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The Bahamas tries to elevate Caribbean sports status in swimming, athletics

This weekend in Barbados and the Cayman Islands, national junior teams will try to expand The Bahamas’ sports brand, via swimming and athletics, respectively.

Over the April 20-23 period, our young swimming standouts will go up against their regional peers in hopes of solidifying the country’s position as a top power. Indeed, in recent years, The Bahamas has evolved as the best Caribbean nation in junior swimming.

This time around, 42 swimmers are representing The Bahamas and there is some pressure to maintain Bahamian supremacy. The national swimming program has advanced wonderfully at the junior level and full credit is due to the architects of the ongoing success.

The sport of athletics is another story. It is ironic that on the senior level, track and field is the leading Bahamian sport. Not so with the juniors though. More than 30 years have passed since The Bahamas captured its fourth and last CARIFTA Games Championship (1984). Subsequently, Bahamian junior boxing rose to the top of the Caribbean and remained there until the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association (CABA) disbanded.

Bahamian junior swimming is still experiencing a fantastic boom, to the point whereby, our swimmers are favored to win their version of CARIFTA once again.

As for athletics, the expectation is not so high, not in the least. Nevertheless, there is a different outlook for junior athletics competition now. Bahamas Association of Athletics Associations’ (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer and his colleagues are opting for quality and not quantity. A relatively small team, 50 athletes, compared to other squads in recent years, will be in action for The Bahamas at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex April 20-22, in search of gold, especially.

Unlike many other competitions whereby second and third place medals count for some points, for CARIFTA athletics, a gold medal carries a lot of weight. CARIFTA athletics is based on gold medal count. This is the area The Bahamas must focus on, in order to get within striking distance of Jamaica. As pointed out, here, on a number of occasions, in my view, this is not the year that The Bahamas will overtake Jamaica for the CARIFTA Games title.

A continued strong focus on quality though, with gold medals as the primary objective, is the formula for success beyond being second to Jamaica. If The Bahamas can cut into the gold medals that Jamaica always wins, a message will be sent.

My fervent hope is for there to be a Bahamian double-digit gold medal count.

That’s possible. This coming Easter weekend is pivotal for sports in the country. An excellent showing by the swimmers and the track and field representatives, I believe, will sensitize the Government of The Bahamas to the valuable sports commodity.

Go Team Bahamas!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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