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Track and field parents association significant to BAAA’s success

Sports Scope
  • Derrick Atkins.

FRED STURRUP

Published: May 31, 2013

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There is a particular aspect of track and field in this country that makes, with continuity, a huge contribution to the national development of the sport of athletics.

I refer to The Bahamas Parents Association of Track and Field Athletes. This organization, headed by Harrison Petty, has been the bread-and-butter producer of track and field scholarships in the nation and has mightily assisted many athletes through sponsorships. Thus it has been vital to the success the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) claims.

To make the point for readers, I wish to submit some names: Leevan Sands, Sheniqua Ferguson, Derrick Atkins, Aaron Cleare and Trevor Barry. Each of the above has attained World Championships or Olympic medals or both, or has been a top international finalist.

Sands got a lot of early support from the association. He went on to win bronze medals at two World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medal as well.

Sheniqua Ferguson, like Sands, enjoyed meaningful sponsorship from the association. She is one of the rising female sprinters in the world and was a part of the 2009 World Championships Bahamian silver medal winning sprint relay squad.

Atkins is the fastest Bahamian ever and the only Bahamian sprinter to run sub-10 seconds. His national record is 9.91 and he has also registered a legal 9.98. Add to that a wind-aided 9.86 and a 9.83 and he stands head and shoulders above every other Bahamian sprinter in times recorded. He was a direct scholarship recipient through the parents association. So were Aaron Cleare and Trevor Barry.

Cleare was one of the quality quarter-milers who helped to establish the country’s legacy in the 1,600 meters relay. He was on the Bahamian team that placed sixth in the 1,600 meters relay final at the Athens Olympic Games.

Barry is Mr. Consistent. For a long time, he competed in the shadows of fellow Bahamian Donald Thomas, the former World Champion, Commonwealth Games champion and Pan American Games champion. However, Barry’s bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships cemented him as one of the top high jumpers in the world.

The aforementioned athletes head a long list of young Bahamian boys and girls who have been afforded scholarships to institutions in the United States by the parents association, and accordingly, opportunities to expand their horizons through education and sports.

In the general scheme of things, the National Sports Academy, proposed by Prime Minister Perry Christie, will succeed only if it finds a way to bring such successful programs into the fold. I suggest that a meaningful path should be found to include such progressive and independent entities into the overall National Sports Academy structure.

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


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