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BTC partners with BAAA for nationals

Published: Jun 21, 2013

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This weekend, Friday and Saturday in particular, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), is set to host the BTC 2013 Open National Track and Field Championships. The two-day competition will be held in Grand Bahama at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex under this year’s theme, “A Nation of Champions” in celebration of the country’s 40th independence.

This past Tuesday, BTC, the title sponsor, presented a check in the amount of $40,000 to Grand Bahama Amateur Athletic Association (GBAAA) executive members and members of the local organizing committee. In the past two years, BTC’s contributions to Bahamian athletics totaled in excess of $800,000 which included sponsorship of CARIFTA, the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational and the “Golden Knights” endorsement.

The BAAA is pleased to establish a long-term relationship with BTC and is pleased that BTC has come on board yet again this year, with a total support of $50,000 for the event. Also, the BAAA is pleased to receive the support of the MailBoat and other Grand Bahamian companies such as the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Focol and the West Grand Bahama District Council.

About 150 collegiate and elite athletes are registered to compete this weekend as this event will serve as the trials for the Senior Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Track and Field Championship and the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships. For many of these elite athletes, their focus is on obtaining ‘A’ qualifying standards for the World Championships. Without the ‘A’ standard and placement within the top three positions at the trials this weekend, no athlete’s position on the team is secured.

At the Penn Relays this year, three out of four Bahamian relay teams attained the qualifying standards. A qualifying standard assures The Bahamas a sure lane in Moscow, Russia during the preliminary rounds. However, it does not assure any one person a position on the relay teams. Therefore, for many of the sprint athletes securing their position is a matter of having an excellent showing at the BTC nationals.

To date, the following athletes have made either the ‘A’ or ‘B’ qualifying standards for the IAAF World Championships in their individual events: Debbie Ferguson, Anthonique Strachan, Bianca Stuart, Shaunae Miller, Sheniqua Ferguson, Michael Mathieu, Derrick Atkins, Jamial Rolle, Ramon Miller, Jeffery Gibson, Ryan Ingraham and Jamal Wilson.

Several of the elite athletes and past champions still have yet to qualify. ‘Superman’ Leevan Sands who was injured during the Olympics last season in London, Demetrius Pinder who was injured at the Chris Brown invitational, veteran Chandra Sturrup and two of Grand Bahama’s elite athletes LaToy Williams and Olympian Raymond Higgs, all have not qualified.

The BAAA nevertheless is not concerned with the number of qualifiers at this point. Athletes usually rise to the occasion during the national championships and the Grand Bahama meet is expected to be no different. Representatives from the BAAA expect the crowd participation to be in the thousands on both nights, creating the energy needed to push the athletes to the qualifying marks.

When asked why Grand Bahama was chosen as the site of the 2013 BTC Open National Track and Field Championships, BAAA Public Relations Officer Tonique Williams stated: “It is important that all Bahamians get to see and touch our national heroes, not just in New Providence. This year we are celebrating 40 years of independence so we picked the theme, ‘A Nation of Champions’. We just lost the great Tommy Robinson so it’s important to the BAAA that our living legends, like the ‘Golden Knights’ get to inspire and motivate the next generation throughout the entire Bahamas. We recognize the talent that comes out of Grand Bahama each year. The age group team, for example, consists of 50-50 New Providence and Grand Bahamian athletes. The world championships and senior CAC team are expected to have a similar composite. The plan is to allow Grand Bahama to host more BAAA competitions in the future.”

On a greater scale, Grand Bahama as a community will benefit from the revenue such events will bring to the city. During this same weekend, baseball is set to have a tournament. These two events will bring revenue to the travel, transportation, hotel and restaurant industries on the island.

The BAAA is excited about this event in Grand Bahama this weekend which starts promptly at 6 p.m. on Friday and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at the Grand Bahama complex.

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