Facing damning criticism for little to no recognition for the world championships medalists who returned to The Bahamas on October 14, National Heroes Day, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle said that it has always been their intention to celebrate the entire team collectively during a period when all of the athletes, coaches and officials of Team Bahamas would be here in the country.
Gold and silver medalists Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo returned to The Bahamas last week Monday, and during their time here, activities have been held in their honor as orchestrated by the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA). They made the rounds to schools, organizations, radio and television talk shows, a cross country meet and visited islands. Miller-Uibo, in particular, was recognized as an Order of Lignum Vitae Award recipient, which is an honor, during the country’s national honors celebration given to outstanding young Bahamians under the age of 25 who would have achieved excellence and made a significant impact and contribution toward the development of The Bahamas. She was awarded at Government House on Tuesday.
Prior to a Cabinet of The Bahamas meeting yesterday, Rolle said that they will honor and celebrate Miller-Uibo, Gardiner and the other seven members of the team who took part in the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships at a time to be agreed upon by all. She hinted that something tangible will be done next month, particularly with November being the national recognition of “Sports Month” by the government of The Bahamas.
“The department of sports is putting something together for the entire Team Bahamas that would have participated in Doha. We will celebrate them no matter what,” said the minister yesterday. “It’s a great accomplishment and we recognize that. We celebrate all who would have qualified, not just the medalists. The department of sports is putting something together, in collaboration with the BAAA, and I look forward for that to be done in due course. Additionally, the month of November is recognized as sports month and certainly the athletes would be a part of that celebration as well.”
The Bahamas ended up 15th in the medal standings, and in a three-way tie for 26th overall in points, at the world championships that wrapped up a little over two weeks ago at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. More than 200 countries took part in the global meet. Gardiner won gold in the men’s 400 meters (m) in a new national record time of 43.48 seconds, and Miller-Uibo claimed the silver in the women’s 400m in a national and area record of 48.37 seconds. Both are now the sixth-fastest of all-time in those respective events.
Additionally, Tynia Gaither was eighth in the women’s 200m in 22.90 seconds.
This is the eighth time that The Bahamas has won at least two medals at the outdoor world championships, and Gardiner’s gold medal run gave the country its eighth gold medal in the history of the world championships. Also, The Bahamas won at least one medal at the world championships for the third consecutive time, and for the 12th time in the past 13 world championships.
“What is happening now is that this is youth month and a lot of activities are coinciding with that. The youth are doing good things and we are recognizing that, and we are continuing to do good things for, by and on behalf of the people of The Bahamas,” said Rolle.
The minister said that as far as she knows there is no conflict or tension between the ministry and the BAAA, and that they will continue to support athletics as well as other sports under their purview as mandated by the government of The Bahamas.
“We’re here to function on behalf of the Bahamian people. There is no level of conflict with this particular minister. I could he here today and there tomorrow. Our job at the ministry is to do what’s best for the Bahamian people and in the interest of the Bahamian people and we remain focused on that task,” she said. “We’re here to assist the BAAA and all other sporting federations in carrying out their mandate. It would be good for us to have clear communication lines between us. Life is not perfect, but the ministry itself has a responsibility and must carry out its due diligence in that regard. The department of sports is run by the director of sports and a very influential and experienced sports team, and I know that they will do well in putting things together. I try to stay in my role which is primarily recommending policies and facilitating the development of sports, not sporting activities itself.”
As far as the celebrations for Team Bahamas are concerned, and what exactly is planned, she said that she is leaving that up to the Department of Sports and Sports Director Tim Munnings, but added that something will certainly be done in short order, and pleaded with the Bahamian people to be patient with them.
Already, the ministry has pledged $40,000 to Gardiner and $30,000 to Miller-Uibo for their medal performances in Doha. Gaither will receive $5,000 for making the final in the women’s 200m. It remains to be seen what celebrations will be held in their honor when they are all back in The Bahamas at the same time.