The Bahamas tries to elevate Caribbean sports status in swimming, athletics

At the CARIFTA swimming and track and field championships in Barbados and the Cayman Islands, respectively, this year, national junior teams tried to expand The Bahamas’ sports brand.

At the end of April, our young swimming standouts went up against their regional peers in hopes of solidifying the country’s position as the top power. The Bahamas ended up winning, capturing their third straight CARIFTA swimming title, and fifth in the past six years. Indeed, in recent years, The Bahamas has evolved as the best Caribbean nation in junior swimming.

The national swimming program has advanced wonderfully at the junior level and full credit is due to the architects of the ongoing success.

The sport of athletics is another story.

It is ironic that on the senior level, track and field is the leading Bahamian sport. That’s not the case with the juniors though. More than 30 years have passed since The Bahamas captured its fourth and last CARIFTA Games championship (1984). Subsequently, Bahamian junior boxing rose to the top of the Caribbean and remained there until the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association (CABA) disbanded.

Bahamian junior swimming is still experiencing a fantastic boom. As for athletics, there is a different outlook for junior athletics competitions. Bahamas Association of Athletics Associations (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer and his colleagues opted for quality and not quantity at the most recent CARIFTA Track and Field Championships. A relatively small team represented The Bahamas at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex over the Easter holiday weekend in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Unlike many other competitions whereby second and third place medals count for some points, for CARIFTA athletics, only the gold medal count determines the overall winner. This is the area The Bahamas must focus on in order to get within striking distance of Jamaica in future competitions. As pointed out, here, on a number of occasions, in my view, The Bahamas will not overtake Jamaica for the CARIFTA Games title anytime soon.

A continued strong focus on quality though, with a gold medal as the primary objective, is the formula for success beyond being second to Jamaica. If The Bahamas can cut into the gold medals that Jamaica always wins, a message will be sent.

It is pivotal for sports, in the country, for junior athletics and swimming, to continue to progress. An excellent showing at the CARIFTA level, I believe, will sensitize the Government of The Bahamas to the valuable sports commodity.

Go Team Bahamas!

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

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