Responding to damning criticism it faced over the past week, in several circles, in the wake of a shortfall of funds for The Bahamas’ team at the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture sent out a press release yesterday, citing support for Team Bahamas.
Still, nothing was mentioned on the matter of whether or not the ministry would fund the entire team’s travel to the 17th IAAF World Championships, set for September 27 to October 6, at the renovated, multi-purpose Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Association (BAAA) put forth a budget, from February 1 of this year, of $116,000. Just last week, the ministry pledged $25,000, and later offered another $25,000 which would come out of the annual grant of the BAAA. With the annual grants cut down to $25,000, it appears that the world championships trip for Team Bahamas would exhaust all of the allocated funds from that grant for next year, even though the minister has said that she would seek to have the grant increased to $50,000. Be that as it may, BAAA President Drumeco Archer said that at the close of business operations on Thursday, no money was added to their bank account, and even if and when it does, they would still have to make tough decisions and cut back where necessary. In reference to the additional funds that are needed for the trip, he said they would have to make do with what they have.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is. We’ve done all that we could,” said Archer. “We’ll just have to cut back on per diem and wherever we could. This shows that planning is indeed necessary, on all levels, and that has to be the order of business moving forward. We are going to do our best to make everyone comfortable in Doha. There will be some sort of stipend from the federation, but I cannot tell you that it would be what has become accustomed at this level. I, along with some of the management team, have purchased our own tickets out of pocket just to make sure that we attend the awards banquet where our very own Ronald Cartwright will be receiving the enviable Veteran’s Pin Award, much like a lifetime achievement award. He deserves it and we must be there to celebrate this huge accomplishment for him and The Bahamas.”
Cartwright is one of three recipients from the region to be receiving the Veteran’s Pin this year, and is only the second coach from The Bahamas behind Keith Parker, to receive this award. He credits Parker, who played a pivotal role in coaching him in the throws and jumps, with a lot of the expertise he garnered in coaching.
Meanwhile, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle remains steadfast in her ministry’s, and by extension the government’s, support of Team Bahamas. In the press release, it was stated that the government of The Bahamas has approved a delegation of three officers to accompany the minister to the world championships to provide standard representation and moral support for our athletes – down from the nine-member delegation that was reported by various media houses over the past week.
“We extend congratulations to the BAAA and the nine athletes who successfully qualified to perform at the world championships,” stated the press release. “As is practiced, in relation to this event, the ministry has extended the offer of approved provisions made available to assist the BAAA and our athletes for the purpose of offsetting specific associated expenses based on the government’s policy of fiscal prudence, and in compliance with current budgetary procedures and protocols.
“Our athletes are resilient. However, we have learnt that this is the smallest contingent of athletes from The Bahamas participating in these championships, and unfortunately, that no relay teams have qualified to represent the country this time around. Nonetheless, it is not expected that this phenomenon will in any way hinder or diminish the representation of the small group that has worked hard during the past year and successfully qualified. They are indeed deserving of the country’s unconditional support and focus on motivating positive discussions surrounding their intended performances.”
Set to travel along with the minister are Pauline Davis-Thompson who will carry out her final duties as IAAF Council Member; her “Golden Girl” teammate Eldece Clarke of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation; and Sports Consultant and Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Timothy Munnings. Bahamian double Olympic gold medalist Davis-Thompson will attend the two-day 52nd IAAF Congress that will elect the IAAF president, the four vice presidents and 13 individual council members. She has to give way to Mike Sands, the newly-elected president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC). As NACAC president, Sands will now serve on the IAAF Council as one of the six area representatives of the IAAF. Just one member from each jurisdiction is allowed to serve on the NACAC board in any one term. Davis-Thompson served as IAAF council member for 12 years before being forced to step down this year.
Qualifying to compete for The Bahamas at the world championships are Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the women’s 200 and 400 meters (m), Steven Gardiner in the men’s 200 and 400m, Tynia Gaither in the women’s 100 and 200m, Anthonique Strachan in the women’s 200m, Pedrya Seymour in the women’s 100m hurdles, Alonzo Russell in the men’s 400m, Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns in the men’s triple jump, Donald Thomas in the men’s high jump and Samson Colebrook in the men’s 100m. Colebrook will not travel, opting to focus on his senior year at Purdue University and next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The press release from the ministry continued, stating that it is their desire for all of the Bahamian athletes to soar and to develop in their various disciplines as they remain committed to working with each federation to assist them in their role of developing their individual sport.
“Indeed, we are proud of such accomplishments and service,” stated the press release. “Notwithstanding the current challenges before our country and indeed our people, the ministry maintains high hopes for our athletes and we are confident that each of them has the ability to attain top medals during this upcoming meet. The ministry will continue to perform its function of creating policies to ensure a level of parity among sporting organizations and Bahamian athletes, and facilitate the development of sports within the country, and in collaboration with federations, to provide assistance and resources that will ensure our athletes are given the opportunities necessary to secure their continued growth and development for and on behalf of the people of The Bahamas.”
Previously, Minister Rolle said that track and field already receives the lion’s share of funds designated for sports, and that they have to be mindful of the financial needs and requests of other sporting federations, as well.
Meanwhile, the start of the IAAF World Championships is now just eight days away. The plight of Team Bahamas remains uncertain.