BOC heightens status of Pan Am Games for local representatives

As has been a refreshing trend, the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) continues to operate outside of the box, beyond what has been normal, and in the process, The Bahamas’ sports brand is accordingly being enhanced.

The BOC has disclosed that the 2019 Pan Am Games Team Bahamas awards presentation will take place on Wednesday, August 28, in the foyer of the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. It’s a first, an innovative undertaking within the Bahamas Olympic movement. The template allows for cash prizes to highlight the affair.

Going forward, cash prizes will go to medal winners and finalists. This time around, there was just one medal winner: Tynia Gaither. She placed third in the women’s 200 meters (m) final to put her country in the medal count and earn the BOC’s top award. There were several other authentic finals appearances.

The fact though that cash prizes have been brought into the picture for the Pan Am Games by the NOC (National Olympic Committee) is huge. It’s a safe bet that in the future, more of the top elite athletes would consider it worthwhile to include the Pan Am Games into their competitive schedules.

Something interesting happened in Lima, Peru several weeks ago at the 18th Pan American Games. It started with whispers. Jamaica’s two speed burners, Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, were said to be coming to Peru to compete. Then, the rumor got stronger and turned into reality.

Perhaps the two fastest women over 100 meters in the world, indeed did grace the games with their presence. Thompson won the 100 meters gold and Fraser-Pryce the 200 meters title. The view here is that they were given some kind of incentive to show up. It has not been customary, in recent times, for top flight performers, such as Thompson and Fraser-Pryce to compete in the Pan Am Games.

Perhaps Jamaica has started a trend. Certainly, four years from now, the U.S. officials will be mindful of what happened in Peru and be on high observance, wanting to provide more quality sprinters.

Our BOC putting cash prizes into the mix is another factor of significance. Just like that, the status of the Pan American Games has been heightened. Interestingly enough, during the games in Peru, the legendary sprinter Carl Lewis and his friend and 100 meters world record successor Leroy Burrell held a press conference. They both spoke with nostalgia about the Pan Am Games, of the time, when the very best of the region competed.

The new interest in the Pan Am Games, sparked by Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, could indeed spread far and wide. The BOC’s decision to bring on stream the Pan Am Games awards presentation is a dimension of note, for sure.

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

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