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IAAF presents The Bahamas, BAAA with huge test

Sports Scope

Published: May 01, 2013

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Another noteworthy item to be etched in the legacy of International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack is the World Relays event. The free encyclopedia, Wikipedia, gives this brief insight to the new IAAF element: “The IAAF World Relays is an international annual track and field sporting event that will see national teams from around the world compete in relay races. The first two editions will take place in Nassau, The Bahamas at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in 2014 and 2015. The competition format will include the 4x100 meters (m) relay, the 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and the 4x1,500m. The event will have a $1.4 million prize fund.”

It is truly incredible that our country has been selected as the host for this historic evolvement within one of the most storied sporting organizations in the world. It is no doubt partly because of the facility, the new national stadium, that The Bahamas has been favored. I think also that Diack has a special appreciation for The Bahamas. A very good relationship developed with Diack and former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Neville Wisdom. This was during the first Perry Christie Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration.

Wisdom, one of our great sports pillars, hosted Diack and got serious talks going on The Bahamas being the location for the International Track and Field Hall of Fame. I was a part of the official group that toured the proposed site at Sandyport and was present during talks Diack and Wisdom had with Prime Minister Christie.

It was clear that Diack wanted The Bahamas to figure prominently as an IAAF partner. Perhaps there is a need for Wisdom to be brought back on stream by the prime minister in some ultra sporting capacity. At the very least, he might be able to get the IAAF Hall of Fame issue going again. The tourism spillover would be extraordinary. For now though, the focus is on the world relays.

The Bahamas is the envy of the region and the wider world. This country will always be where the IAAF World Relays first took place. I believe the event will become a fixture. In this regard, there is a great responsibility load on The Bahamas through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the BAAA.

Certainly, the IAAF will have its very own organizing team present leading up to and during the events. Still, there is pressure on the local entities to be as accommodating as possible, to justify the decision by Diack and his executives. I see it as imperative that the ministry and Minister Daniel Johnson do all that can be done to drive this initiative properly.

It is a huge test for The Bahamas. The country’s sports power image will be greatly enhanced if the events go over smoothly. It is a great compliment that we happen to be the location for the inaugural World Relay Championships. The responsibility package is heavy nevertheless. My advice to the BAAA is to jointly work with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in putting together a local organizing committee that will operate hand-in-hand with representatives of the IAAF. There is just one year to go.

In the past, a blatant failing aspect has been the habit of waiting until almost too late to get organizing committees going. By now, a secretariat should have been put in place for the 2014 World Relays. The sooner this happens, the better the chances are for those on this end, to handle responsibilities in the best possible manner.

I just thought to pass on a bit of advice.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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