The COVID-19 pandemic put the local sporting community and the world at large on pause back in March of this year, but one local club is hoping to change the stagnation before the Christmas holiday.
The Neymour’s Athletics Club Odd Distance Christmas Fiesta is expected to take place on December 18-19 at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex. It is also a Bahamas Association of Athletics Association (BAAA) sanctioned event.
Confirmed to compete at the meet is The Bahamas’ own Steven Gardiner, Jamaican sprinter and World Champion Yohan Blake, fellow Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer, American distance specialist Jordyn West, and many other junior and elite athletes.
The meet will feature clubs throughout the United States, Jamaica, and of course The Bahamas, and will be a huge melting pot of junior and elite athletes competing at the highest possible level, according to NAC’s coach/president Jerial Forbes.
“This event is going to bring in international athletes from all over the world into Grand Bahama. We’re using this event to re-boost the economy and boost sports in The Bahamas and brand The Bahamas an international world-class destination for track and field athletes.
“We look to have some exciting events and exciting athletes come down and compete against some of our top athletes here in Grand Bahama.”
Once the final plans are put in place, this meet will be the first sporting event since sports was suspended back in March. To help others around the world keep an eye on what is expected to be a grand affair, NAC has partnered with Youth Runners Magazine to live-stream the races.
“They have a large international base and we also partnered with Coach O Media so the international scene can know about the event and we can widen the spectrum for athletes all over to come here and compete.
“The sanctioning of this meet will allow kids who are competing to qualify for indoor, regional, international and national events abroad.”
The Bahamas and the world at large are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Forbes assured that social distancing and health protocols will be adhered to.
“The Local Organizing Committee for this event have identified the field adjacent to the Sports Complex (Flag Football field) for tents, which will house the athletes. They will then be shuttled across to the Complex once their event is called.
“We plan for social distance by also setting up benches and bleachers straight around the track and have valet seating for all spectators.”
With the current Emergency Orders remaining in place until November 30, Forbes remained confident that this year’s event will come together, especially to revitalize the pulse of sports on Grand Bahama.
“We’re hoping the restrictions will be lessened. Seeing that Grand Bahama has been hit by (Hurricane) Dorian and now COVID-19, we’ve been closely moving into a recession. This event would open the door for the economy to revive, increase some jobs, fill up the capacity of the hotels, tour buses, and Airbnb facilities.
“We have a lot of youth athletes coming in. With that being said, those athletes bring their families. We look to have this event as safe and reliable as possible. We’ll also have a COVID-19 team integrated into our event so we can make sure everyone is socially distancing and following the guidelines mandated by the competent authority,” he concluded.
NAC hosted their third annual Basil O. Neymour Track and Field Classic back in February of this year.