The year 2019 wrapped up for local athletics on Sunday with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Masquerade Soirée and Awards Banquet.
It was another progressive year for athletics – one in which The Bahamas won at least two medals for the fourth straight global meet outdoors. Additionally, there are a number of athletes in the pipelines who could contribute to global success as early as next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Led by athletes such as Steven Gardiner, Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Terrance Jones, The Bahamas ended 2019 with high individual rankings on the World Athletics Top Lists. Gardiner won gold in the men’s 400 meters (m) at the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships in Doha, Qatar, this year, Miller-Uibo took silver in the women’s 400m, and Jones ended the year tied as the number one youth (under-18) half-lapper in the world, tied as the number two junior (under-20) half-lapper in the world and the number three youth (under-18) quarter-miler in the world.
The Bahamas is a small, but mighty nation in athletics, and sports in general.
Still, BAAA President Drumeco Archer is not satisfied. He knows that there is a lot more that can be done, and is pushing all of the protagonists of the sport to go the extra mile in 2020. The BAAA has already started its relay drive for the Tokyo Olympics, looking to atone for the blunder at the world championships when the country was not represented in any of the traditional four relays for the first time in 26 years at that event. The Bahamas was also represented at every single Olympic Games in at least one relay over that span.
This year, it wasn’t to be as none of the four teams qualified. Archer said that must and will change in 2020.
“In all of our imperfections, we must strive to be better and we must commit ourselves to do more,” he said. “It is my prediction that when we do more, we will produce the best junior athletes in the world and when we find a way to give more and encourage all of our senior athletes to be their best, then we will have the best year of track and field in Bahamian history in 2020. For this to happen, we must love more, share more, disagree with more brotherly and sisterly love and love the thing that we do beyond people and personalities.”
The BAAA’s final running event of 2019 was the road races of the BAAA Masquerade Race Weekend on Saturday. There was a 10-kilometer (10K) event, a half marathon relay, and the BAAA also staged a Hurricane Dorian One-Mile March in commemoration of the survivors of the deadly hurricane which hit The Bahamas in early September.
Archer said whereas he appreciates the support of the general community, he was disappointed with the turnout of the various clubs around New Providence.
“Notwithstanding our growing public support, I must express my greatest disappointment in the lack of response and support from many of our clubs, who were noticeably absent from all of this weekend’s events,” said Archer. “I have encouraged every athlete and every club to embrace the change of the federation for the greater good of our community. While I am ever-mindful that many of us are philosophically different in our beliefs, I am equally mindful that we must respect each other, work harder together and more importantly, support the ambitions of the federation. Isolation and undermining, deep hatred and non-participation are divisive and ultimately retard our program, in spite of our unified claim of wanting to see it grow and blossom.
“I remain open and available to every athlete, every coach, company, and every ministry. Even in the face of challenges, we must continue to promote a new culture of leadership that empowers you to have an equal stake in the federation. As the president of this organization, it is incumbent upon me to recognize the value in all of our members and create opportunities for deserving athletes and coaches. This requires fairness, discipline and to establish clear expectations from all of our constituents. In defending the rights of athletes, we protect them zealously, but we must do so in a decent and organized way. Public discord, hatred, and division is not the answer. We have seen some of the amazing successes of Bahamians in coaching, such as Rolando Greene and Norbert Elliott who have proven that there is commercial value in what we do, but we must demand a greater level of respect for the profession we have chosen.”
Greene leads the Kentucky Wildcats athletics program while Elliott does the same with the Purdue Boilermakers. They are two Bahamians heading National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletic programs in the United States.
“We must all change for the better, and this change must be on a united front,” said Archer. “We expect the very best from our athletes; in return, our athletes expect the best from us. That means that we must do more to unify this federation, do more to support, do more to raise funds, do more to encourage each other, give more and love more. These are all biblical tenets that we must espouse; these are tenets that we must believe in… otherwise this federation will not get better. Leadership is a universal responsibility that requires universal engagement. It is only then that we will enjoy the fruits of a better federation for all.”
The BAAA handed out 24 awards to deserving athletes during its end-of-year awards presentation on Sunday evening.
With the Games of the 32nd Olympiad culminating the next athletics season in Tokyo, Japan, Archer is looking for continued progression collectively among Bahamian athletes and a strong representation from Team Bahamas.