It was a night for all sports, but the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) and the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) stood out the most as they carted off most of the awards at the 2019 Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s National Sports Awards inside the Crown Ballroom at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island on Friday.
Under the theme “Champions Among Us: Locally Grown, Globally Known”, there were 20 winners of the night including National Team of the Year, Federation of the Year, Collegiate Athlete of the Year, Junior Male and Female Athletes of the Year and the coveted Prime Minister Award for Overall Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
The BAAA took both of the Prime Minister Awards with world-class track and field stars Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo reigning supreme as male and female athletes of the year respectively.
Gardiner had a great year on the track, finishing unbeaten in all of his races. He won the gold medal in the coveted men’s 400 meters (m) at the 2019 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now known as World Athletics, World Championships in Doha, Qatar last month. He ran a national record-setting time of 43.48 seconds, listing him as the sixth-fastest of all-time.
Miller-Uibo came away with the silver medal in the women’s 400m race at the world championships.
Like Gardiner, she ran a national record and is also now the sixth-fastest of all-time. She also set a new area record, finishing second in a blistering 48.37 seconds. Miller-Uibo also set a national record in the women’s 200m this year, and a world record in the women’s 300m.
The 200m national record of 21.74 seconds was set at the IAAF Diamond League Final in Zurich, Switzerland, back in August. She won that race to capture her third straight Diamond League title in the women’s 200m, and fourth overall. She was undefeated all year up until the women’s 400m final at the world championships. In fact, her unbeaten streak in all of her events stretched for more than two years.
She set the world record in the 300m race when she clocked 34.41 seconds at the Golden Spike Meet in Ostrava, Czech Republic, back in June.
The other nominees were National Basketball Association (NBA) player Chavano “Buddy” Hield and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Jonquel Jones.
Miller-Uibo also won the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Excellence Achiever Award.
A happy Drumeco Archer, president of the BAAA, said that the dominance of Gardiner and Miller-Uibo this year was evident.
“This is a wonderful evening for track and field. I think it vindicates and demonstrates that we have put in a whole lot of work at every level. The dominance of Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo is evident. All of the work that they have done this season, and in previous seasons, is paying off. This is really just the penultimate step toward an exciting year 2020,” Archer said.
The Bahamas Basketball Federation won the Federation of the Year Award for its work in promoting basketball and yielding success.
Mario Bowleg, president of the BBF, was happy to see his federation’s hard work being rewarded.
“This is two years in a row we were able to win the Federation of the Year Award. I think that is a sign of our hard work and dedication for what we do for basketball to impact the community,” Bowleg said. “I feel that tonight is indicative of the hard work and dedication put on by myself and the executives of the federation, not only to impact the local community but the country at large. As you can see we were able to win the National Team Award with the under-17 team that qualified for the Tournament of Americas which was coached by Quinton Hall who also won the Coach of the Year Award. It was a great night for basketball.”
As he mentioned, the sport of basketball produced the National Team of the Year with the under-17 (U17) boys winning the bronze medal at the Centrobasket U17 Tournament back in July. With that win over the Dominican Republic, they booked their tickets to play in the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas Under-18 (U18) Championship in 2020.
Also as Bowleg mentioned, Quinton Hall, a Grand Bahamian, was honored as the national coach of the year. He was the head coach of that under-17 boys team.
The Tourism Impact Award went to Hield who is one of the top ambassadors for The Bahamas globally. Hield also won the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Excellence Achiever Award for Men.
“Even though Buddy won that, when you look at the tournaments that are here for basketball – Battle 4 Atlantis, Junkanoo Jam, the Goombay Shootout, Bahama Shootout, Summer of Thunder, Tip-off Classic… we bring a lot of tourists to the island that impact the country at large for tourism.”
Athletics captured the Sportsmanship Award when it was won by men’s 400m hurdler Jeffery Gibson.
Terrence Jones, one of the top three junior 200m sprinters in the world for 2019, snagged the Future/Rising Star Award. His set a new junior national record of 20.43 seconds in that event this year.
He is also the CARIFTA Games under-20 boys champion in the 400m, clocking 46.29 seconds in Georgetown, Cayman Islands, back in April.
“I was pleasantly surprised when Terrence Jones would have won the Rising Star Award. I have been preaching the gospel of Terrence Jones and I am very happy that he would have won,” Archer said.
Tynia Gaither was the winner of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) Award. She captured the bronze medal in that event at the 18th Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, with a time of 22.76 seconds, and she was also a finalist at the 2019 IAAF World Championships.
C.H. Reeves Junior High School won the Secondary Athletic School of the Year for the junior category, and winning that award for the senior division was the St. Augustine’s College Big Red Machine.
Thora Sweeting won the Volunteer Award for her efforts in the sport of softball. Popular youth baseball coach and national sports icon Fred “Papa” Smith won the Community Sports Award. He said he loves doing what he does and he’s surprised he won.
“I didn’t know anything about this award. I thank the people who organized it. Like I tell somebody, you just go out there and do what you have to do. I just do it because I love doing it – giving back to the community,” Smith said.
Sydney Clarke who had a great year on the tennis circuit, won the Junior Female Athlete of The Year. Tennis player Baker Newman who performed under pressure at the Pan Am Games while his mother was undergoing medical treatment, won the Leevan Sands Courage Award. Junior Development Head of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) Perry Newton said the association is pleased with the awards they received.
“It was a joy and a pleasure to see yourself get representation tonight. We won the courage award last year. The guys in tennis play with a lot of grit and heart and I am happy that they were able to pull out a couple wins. Sydney (Clarke) had an excellent year stretching back into 2018, where she won a lot of tournaments and she played Fed Cup this year. We are very pleased. Now we are looking and still trying to grow and continue to be successful in every aspect of performance,” Newton said.
Izaak Bastian won the Junior Male Athlete of the Year for his efforts in swimming. Bastian attends Florida State University (FSU). His father Darren Bastian collected the award on his behalf and spoke about his son’s success.
“God is certainly good. When you look at that award, the first thing that came to my mind was taking him to practice at 4:30 in the mornings to practice an hour or two and then get back to school in time for his day to start. It comes with a lot of sacrifice. People see the success but they don’t know the story behind that,” said Darren Bastian.
Deron Forbes and LaTonya Moss won the Athlete of the year with Disability Awards. They won for their achievements at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The Most Improved Athlete of the Year Award went to Cynthia Rahming representing the Bahamas Judo Federation (BJF).
Mike Strachan, who plays wide receiver for the University of Charleston, won the Collegiate Athlete of the Year Award.