Bahamas goes GOLD!
As a proud Bahamian, it would be remiss of me not to brag about my little country of 350,000 people’s recent historic win in the Men’s 4 x 400 relay final at the Olympics on Friday. Half of the office at ECLAC was in our conference room glued to the TV screaming on Trinidad and Tobago (who got a bronze) and The Bahamas at 4.20pm that afternoon! Awesome way to end the week.
The Bahamas has typically punched above its weight at the Olympics, winning the most medals per capita in 4 out of the last 5 Olympics (OK, just 1 or 2 medals in each case, but still…. not bad for a country which is smaller than most neighbourhoods in any major city!).
This time around, we achieved some great feats – getting the first Bahamian swimming finalist in Arianna Vanderpool Wallace’s 50m Freestyle Final and reaching the final in several other sports, but it wasn’t until we stormed passed the US in the last leg of the 4 x 400 to relieve them of a gold they have won in every Olympics since 1984 that we could be sure we weren’t going home empty handed! The relay team of Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller pulled out the incredible win to come in .33 seconds ahead of the US team and a full couple of seconds ahead bronze place winners Trinidad and Tobago to get the gold.
Congrats Team BAH! But also congratulations to Trinidad and Tobago, JAMAICA (The cry in Jamaica being “ONE, TWO, THREE!” when Usain Bolt, Yohann Blake and Warren Weir took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for Jamaica in the incredible 200 metre final, following Bolt’s own world record breaking win in the 100m sprint), and ofcourse Kirani James of tiny little Grenada for winning that country’s FIRST EVER Olympic Medal – a GOLD in the 400m sprint final!
The Caribbean has been proving it can beat the best this year. As someone for whom the question of how The Caribbean can regain and improve its competitiveness in a global environment is an academic and potentially and future professional concern…seeing the region prove its ability to do so in the sports arena is somehow a great encouragement. It shows that with the right investments, Caribbean people can be the best in the world. Friday’s race and the screams of the ECLAC office staff – who hail from all parts of the Caribbean – suggested to me that that sports are one of the few areas which have the ability to totally unite Caribbean people. All anyone wanted was for a Caribbean person to win, whether it be The Bahamas, Trinidad or Cuba! (all the Caribbean countries represented in the race).
With the type of performances the Bahamas has shown in this and previous Games I hope that The Bahamas’ government sees the benefit of investing in sports in the Bahamas, and doing so in a way that gets young Bahamians in general keen to participate and compete. In this regard, I think we have to take tips from Jamaica who have proven to be the champions of sprint training regimes! However, it’s important we don’t just think about sprinting when we think sports. One of the things I have been really impressed by in Trinidad and Tobago is the amount of sports activity going on in the country, with Trinbagonians young and old. Every day I walk around the Savannah on my way home from work and see amateur teams enjoying a game of rugby, football, cricket and even martial arts. On Saturdays and Sundays teams can be seen flying up and down pitches all around Trinidad in the intense humidity and heat. Thinking about why it might be that we don’t see this so much in The Bahamas, I’m concerned it’s got a lot to do with a lack of open spaces, but I’m sure there’s a role to play for schools too. And of course there’s a virtuous cycle effect, where the more young people see sports as a part of their daily lives and those of the people around them, the more they will try to be involved. We need to do more to encourage this in The Bahamas.