The incredibly inept manner in which the Bahamas Association of Athletics Association (BAAA) handled the process of two representative teams at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan, over the weekend was demoralizing.
The expectations were high for The Bahamas, particularly via the 4 X400 men’s relay, to continue the string of winning a medal each time out. The Bahamas got two silver medals (men’s 4 x400), and one gold medal (mixed 1600 meters event), during the first three International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) event respectively, all of them staged right here in The Bahamas.
This time around, with one of the world’s top-three 400 meters runners (Steven Gardiner) in tow, as well as the consistent Grand Bahamian Alonzo Russell, I felt at least a silver medal was a good possibility. As it turned out, the powerful United States team was disqualified; Trinidad/Tobago ended up with the gold (3:00.81); Jamaica was second (3:01.57) and Belgium got the bronze (3:02.70).
Gardiner, Russell and any of the other two running their best, could have brought The Bahamas, perhaps a gold, as the race played out ultimately.
The explanation given by BAAA President Drumeco Archer, regarding the reported injury Gardiner was dealing with; when notification of such was received; and the inability of The Bahamas to substitute inside of the regulated time frame is hard to digest. It would be good if Archer could make public the exact window of time that had to be adhered to.
Something just does not seem right. What is this “technicality” he speaks of? Archer sounds like the lawyer he is, being vague when it is deemed that full clarity might create further legal challenges.
The bottom line is that the clear perception is that the BAAA was clumsy at best in dealing with the situation. What is most telling, other than the incompetence of the BAAA on the world stage, is how even tougher it now becomes to make the case for more sports funding from the government.
What is the defense for spending many thousands of dollars on plane tickets alone for 10 athletes, plus officials to travel half way around the world just to give a lackluster performance?
How can the case be made strongly, to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, his finance minister K. Peter Turnquest, and the rest of the Cabinet that the allocation for sports in the national budget should be considerably elevated?
What justification is there for Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle to be of mind to continue the Subvention Programme in the business as usual concept, when it appears like the funds are just being wasted in some instances?
Indeed, the representation by the BAAA over the weekend, has made the lobbying for more national sports funds, annually, much more of a hard sell to the politicians. President Archer and company are expected to deliver performances based on our potential. Anything less would not, and, should not be accepted.
Archer and his executives were elected to enhance the track and field product, especially, and the wider sporting fraternity in general, and not to dumb down the process.
The lobbying for additional national sports funding will continue, indeed. However, the battle to change the mindset of our politicians, became that much harder as a result of the travesty in Yokohama, this past weekend.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).