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The Bahamas closes Pan AMs on high note

Thomas led by example with impressive gold medal performance in high jump
  • Donald Thomas cleared the bar at 2.32m (7’ 7-1/4”) Thursday, winning the gold medal at the 16th Pan Am Games. The Bahamas won two other medals: silver by boxer Valentino Knowles and bronze by Ramon Miller. Photo courtesy of SIMON LEWIS

SIMON LEWIS
Sports Writer For the Guardian

Published: Oct 31, 2011

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico — It was the final event on Thursday - even though the 200 meters (m) were scheduled last – and the stage was set. The crowd refused to leave as they sensed the beginning of a moment rising with the evening moon. It became apparent that an epic battle was underway at the high jump pit – Ecuador versus The Bahamas.

The Bahamas won the moment and secured the first gold medal to be presented on Friday - the final day of competition for the team. It was the first and only time, the country’s national anthem would be played and the flag hoisted over the national stadium in the central gold medal winning position. The Bahamas won three medals at the games - the gold by Thomas in the high jump with a leap of 2.32m (7’ 7-1/4”), a silver by boxer Valentino Knowles in the Men’s 64 kg class, and a bronze by Ramon Miller in the Men's 400m, in 45.01 seconds.

After winning that sole gold medal for The Bahamas, Thomas was extremely apprehensive about attending the medal ceremony, burdened by issues unrelated, but nonetheless troubling. He was reminded of the ‘Spirit of the Games’ and the value of the moment to every Bahamian, from the tiny contingent in Guadalajara to the general populace at home, whose hopes and aspirations were embedded, intertwined and encapsulated in the efforts of this Pan American Games Team, best summarized in the words of the national anthem. The short journey to the stadium in the Chef’s car offered the needed nurture of confidence and erosion of anxiety.

He took the stage and allowed ‘the moment’ – one that ushered soft tear drops from quiet, deep emotions as the world... “marked the manner of our bearing”. The gold, aquamarine and black uniform stood out and the flag was finally raised over Guadalajara, cementing an image into the annals of these games that evoked chants of “Bahamas” and granting center stage to a most decorated athlete.

London 2012 came squarely into view in brilliant streams of light. The tiny Commonwealth of The Bahamas held riveted thousands in attendance and enthralled the millions watching on television... “The world marked the manner of our bearing.” For Team Bahamas, and in this Pan American moment for now, it was “mission accomplished”, and to Guadalajara adieu.

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