The island of Grand Bahama will receive a major shot in the arm as the fourth edition of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Championships is coming to its shores.
The major athletic meet, the biggest to ever be held in Grand Bahama, is set for August 19-21 at the Grand
Bahama Sports Complex. According to NACAC President Mike Sands, all 31 member associations are expected to compete and some of the finer athletes in the region have already confirmed participation.
In total, close to 500 athletes, coaches and officials are expected to venture into Freeport, Grand Bahama for the region’s signature event in athletics. A site inspection has already taken place and there will be an upgrade done to the track surface of the complex, according to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg.
“The Bahamas is a small but powerful country that punches well above its weight in sports, and once again, greatness is coming to this archipelagic nation with the hosting of the 4th NACAC Championships,” said the minister during the official launch of the event at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday. “We’re going to show the region how it is better in The Bahamas. We are on a mission to bring back the ‘Sports in Paradise’ brand. We are in partnership with the BAAA, NACAC and World Athletics, and through the cooperation of the Ministry for Grand Bahama, we are looking to have a very successful event. We’re looking forward to this event bringing some sort of economic boost to Grand Bahama.”
A new Mondo surface is planned for the facility to complement the other amenities that are already in place such as the electronic timing system and proper lighting. World Athletics (WA) President Lord Sebastian Coe has confirmed his attendance, and Bahamian elite athletes Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Steven Gardiner, Anthonique Strachan, Devynne Charlton and TyNia Gaither, just to name a few, are likely to take part.
The minister said given the state of Grand Bahama, and what that island encountered over the past two and a half years, it was a no brainer to bring this meet to its shores.
“What this administration does not want to do is become Nassau centric,” he said. “Most of the things that we intend to do will spread throughout The Bahamas. Understanding the position that Grand Bahama is in economically and knowing that they need a boost, it only makes sense that we go to Grand Bahama. Next year, the Bahamas Games will take place in New Providence, CARIFTA will take place in New Providence… you can’t bring everything to New Providence. Grand Bahama is the second city and we would like to get them back to the magic city and put the grand back in Grand Bahama. It should be the sports and entertainment capital of The Bahamas.”
NACAC President Mike Sands, a Bahamian, said the area has always been renowned for its success at the highest levels in athletic competitions, and that this meet will go a long way in securing world ranking points for the athletes. Prize money will be up for grabs as well.
“This is remarkable and historic,” said Sands. “NACAC is World Athletics leading area association in terms of participation and success at global meets and athletes are world renowned because of their successes at the Olympics and world championships events. This is a first time occurrence for The Bahamas. The Bahamas is also the host nation of the home of the NACAC Secretariat under my leadership and that is also historic. We want to thank the Government of The Bahamas for their cooperation in this venture. We also want to thank the BAAA for accepting the challenge of hosting this event and for working with the GBAAA in the mammoth task of bringing this event to life. So far, Grand Bahama has demonstrated its excitement to making these championships the best version of the event. Grand Bahama is on the move. NACAC is grateful to the minister, the people of Grand Bahama and the people of this great nation. We wish you well and we look forward to a most successful hosting of the NACAC Championships.”
As mentioned, this is the fourth edition of the NACAC Championships. The inaugural event was held in 2007, it was held again in 2015, and once again in 2018. The 2022 edition will mark the first time that it is not held in a capital city of a country or a major international city. Be that as it may, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer said he has every confidence in their member body, the Grand Bahama Amateur Athletic Association (GBAAA), to pull off the hosting of this major event.
“I would always consider Grand Bahama to be the sporting capital of The Bahamas,” said Archer. “As The Bahamas could say that it is the best in the world per capita in athletics, the same could be said of Grand Bahama and its successes in sports. On behalf of the BAAA, we are pleased that we are not only hosting the event, but also that we are hosting it in Grand Bahama. This is a real celebration of Grand Bahama. We are particularly proud to hold the hands of our compatriots in Grand Bahama who we have reposed all of our trust in pulling off this event and ensuring that we deliver a very successful event.
“We believe that this will set the stage for future events that will take place in Grand Bahama. The NACAC Championships is considered the Olympics of the sport in the region. We want to be able to create history once again and Grand Bahama is no better place to do it. Congratulations to Grand Bahama and I would be remiss without mentioning the yeoman’s task that has been done on the ground in Grand Bahama with the operations team. This is truly a Grand Bahamian product and we wish you every success in Grand Bahama.”
It has been suggested that the late Anita Doherty, the esteemed educator and sports lady who just passed away in March, be recognized as the honorary patron of the NACAC Championships. Organizers are looking for Corporate Bahamas to come on board.
“We’re so excited to be bringing the NACAC Championships to Grand Bahama,” said Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey. “We’re looking to bring back ‘Sports in Paradise’ because we know the strength of sports and what it does for a nation. With Grand Bahama being the events and entertainment destination of The Bahamas, it is only fitting that it was agreed to have NACAC in Grand Bahama. Everyone is aware that we have been through a lot. We are recovering, revolutionizing and rebuilding our community. We’re excited for what’s in store for Grand Bahama, what it means to our people and what that means to sports development in The Bahamas. This is just the beginning – there is so much more to come and we certainly look forward to it.”
The three-day event is expected to create a lot of room nights for the hotels on the island, and pump a lot of dollars into the local community.
“Something like this usually gets the entire country going and it is going to be huge for our island,” said Minister Moxey.
NACAC President Sands said it is incumbent on the member associations and their delegations to honor the health and safety guidelines and protocols of the host country as it relates to the control of COVID-19.
“Our standards cannot supercede the protocols that are in place by the host country. We are cautiously optimistic that things will go according to plan but we will be guided by the authorities and the protocols that are in place,” said Sands. “Ours will still be in place in terms of ensuring that countries have specific COVID protocol officers who are responsible for ensuring that their athletes and officials adhere to any protocols that are in place. We are optimistic that the proper measures will be in place and that the meet will come off without a hitch.”
The 4th NACAC Championships is set to be the biggest athletic competition ever held in Grand Bahama, and will take place about a month after the 2022 World Athletics Championships which is scheduled for July 15-24 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.