Grand Bahamian athletics coach Jerial Forbes, head of the Neymour Athletics Track and Field Club, said he feels slighted by the very body that his club is a member of and who he represents as a council member.
Forbes was the chief organizer behind the Neymour Athletics Christmas Odd Distance Track and Field Classic that was held on a subdued level in December 2020. Scarring the meet was a major disagreement between Forbes and foreign coach and world-renowned track analyst and sportscaster Ato Boldon which led to the non-participation of one of the meet headliners, Briana Williams of Jamaica. Williams, the World Under-20 Double Sprint Champion, is one of Boldon’s prized athletes and was set to run the 150 meters (m) and 300m events.
Forbes publicly voiced his displeasure with Boldon and his decision to pull his athlete from the meet while the latter just recently made public statements, saying that he and his athlete shouldn’t have gone to the meet in the first place.
Initially, Bolden said on social media that the organizers failed to deliver on reasonable expectations to host a well-structured track and field meet. Forbes later said Boldon was the one being unreasonable, and is now speaking out against the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) for “not defending” him.
“The BAAA has been attacking me from September 1, and I sit on the board as a council member as one of the highest executives on Grand Bahama,” said Forbes. “They sided with Coach Ato without asking my reasoning, and I feel disappointed by that. Here you have someone who is trying to do something significant for the island of Grand Bahama and he is being targeted. All I’m trying to do is bring exposure to Grand Bahama for athletics.”
Taking a stance to protect the integrity of the sport and the reputation of the country and national athletics body, BAAA President Drumeco Archer said that the unfortunate matter will be dealt with internally, and any possible sanctions would be directly attributable to the nature of the discourse.
“We are not deliberating any issue other than the issue that surrounds his conduct,” said Archer. “I’m not aware of anything that would have disenfranchised him. We have offered every level of support that would be expected of any coach or club. No manner of treatment has to do with anything other than with his conduct.”
Choosing not to go into details further, Archer said they will continue to protect the reputation of the BAAA and the country at large, and at this time, their primary focus remains on the progression and trajectory of the 2021 season in the face of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.
Boldon told the Jamaica Observer that North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) President Mike Sands, a Bahamian, assured that the individual in question would not be able to promote any future meets, but on the contrary, Forbes said his upcoming meet, the 4th Annual Basil Neymour Construction Classic, will go on as scheduled, February 12-13, at the Grand Bahama (GB) Sports Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Forbes stated that has received permission from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to use the GB Sports Complex facility to stage his meet, and can go above the BAAA to World Athletics for sanctioning if necessary, but Archer said that is a process that is unlikely.
Archer said in an earlier statement: “The federation encourages all clubs (including Neymour Athletics) throughout The Bahamas to host meets; however, it is a lot easier to optimize the efforts of clubs and the federation when we attempt to work together to accomplish the same objectives through better coordination.”
The Basil Neymour Classic has become a staple event on Grand Bahama, assisting with the development and promotion of athletics in the nation’s second city. Forbes said he is looking forward to that meet taking place and for the sport of athletics to thrive once more on Grand Bahama.