It is that time of the year again when The Nassau Guardian Sports Team hands out its yearly awards to athletes who have worked tirelessly all year. After a tumultuous year, athletes were able to get back into action primarily in the individual sporting events locally and the oversees athletes were also able to get back into action in their various disciplines.
This year, the panel starts off the honors with the Junior Female Athlete of the Year. Winning that category unanimously this year is javelin specialist Rhema Otabor with 30 points. The 19-year-old had some impressive throws this year on the international and collegiate scene. She broke the junior national record thrice this past season.
Finishing second to her is future athletics star Lacarthea Cooper with 27 points and junior basketball
sensation Rhema Collins was third with 15 points.
Otabor finished her season off with a personal best and junior national record throw of 55.08 meters (m) (180’ 8”) in the second round of the World Athletics (WA) World Under-20 (U20) Championships back in August of this year. The most prestigious junior international meet was held at the Kasarani Stadium inside the Moi International Sports Center in Nairobi Kenya.
She settled for fourth place and fourth in the world.
Before those Games, the Blue Chip Athletics Throwers Club athlete was at National Stadium of Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica, securing the gold medal at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-18 (U18), U20 and Under-23 (U23)
Championships in July of this year. It was at this meet, that she set the then-national record when she tossed the javelin for 55.06m (180’ 7”).
It was on the collegiate circuit that the Florida International University Panthers then-freshman first set the national junior record back in March of this year. The massive throw came at the Hurricane Invitational, University of Miami Cobb Stadium in Coral Gables, Florida. The Javelin traveled for 54.19m (177’ 9”). In breaking the national junior record, Otabor also smashed her school’s javelin record with the first-place finish.
In her first Conference-USA Outdoor Championship, she won the gold medal with a throw of 51.37m (168’ 6”). Hoping to secure a qualifying spot to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Otabor had to finish at least 12th at the NCAA Division I East Preliminaries. A throw of 50.25m (164’ 10”) was just enough as she secured the final spot for that region. It was a huge accomplishment for the freshman as she threw with the best women’s collegiate javelin throwers in the country. At that meet, Otabor placed 21st overall when she capped off her first collegiate outdoor season with a throw 49.60m (162’ 9”).
This is a very important year coming up for her as she looks to represent The Bahamas at the 2021 World Athletics Track and Field World Outdoor Championships and the 2024 Paris Olympic Summer Games.
Cooper was very active this past season although there was no high school sports locally. The St. Augustine’s College (SAC) student-athlete was selected to three national teams this year after her brilliant run on the local track and field scene. She was selected for the postponed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, World Athletics (WA) World Under-20 (U20) Championships and NACAC U18 , U20 and U23 Championships. The only one of those meets that the sprinter was unable to attend was the Olympics because of COVID-19-related reasons. She was the youngest member to be selected to that team.
She posted personal bests this past season in the 100m, 200m, 400m and the 400m hurdles. Her personal best of 24.09 seconds in the 200m came at the NACAC junior meet where she placed third in the U18 girls to come away with the bronze medal. The Red-Line Athletics Track Club sprinted to a personal best of 11.71 seconds in the 100m dash back in May. She did it at the Star Trackers Track and Field meet on home soil at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
At the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) National Track and Field Championships in June, Cooper went up against the best Bahamian runners and managed to run under 55 seconds in the 400m dash for the first time clocking a personal best of 54.47 seconds to finish third in her heat. Her personal best in the 400m hurdles came at her club’s meet in match where she posted a time of 1:00.21.
In Kenya, the SAC senior posted a time of 12.30 seconds in the 100m preliminaries. Her time was not enough to advance her to the semi-final.
Collins is a name that Bahamians need to remember. The high school basketball sensation is turning recruiting heads after relocating from Florida to Tennessee where she is a student-athlete at The Webb School. The junior basketball standout has her team sporting a 7-4 win/loss record on the season. She is ranked number seven in the Prep Girls Hoops Florida Class of 2023 rankings. She got scholarship offers from schools such as Auburn, Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Houston, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, St. Johns and West Virginia.
The top junior males in the country for 2021 will be recognized tomorrow.