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Basil Neymour was a quarter-miler in his day

Strong track background is a part of his outstanding legacy
  • TRACK BACKGROUND: The legendary Basil Neymour was once a quarter-miler for The Bahamas. He ran for the St. Bernard’s Sporting Club in those early days of Bahamian track and field.

FRED STURRUP
Nassau Guardian Columnist & Sales Executive
sturrup1504@gmail.com

Published: Sep 20, 2013

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The quarter-mile has produced more Bahamian elite performers than any other event in track and field. It will surprise many of the newer generations of Bahamians to know that the recently departed sports icon Basil Neymour was a part of the one-lap-run tradition.

The 440 yards that became transformed internationally to the 400 meters (m), has for some reason always been an event that attracted quality Bahamian athletes. At the top of the ladder for The Bahamas of course, is Tonique Williams-Darling, who happens to be the only Bahamian to reign simultaneously as the Olympic and World Champion in the event. She won the Olympic gold medal in 2004 and the World Outdoor Championships in 2005.

Of course, there is Avard Moncur, the World Outdoor Champion from 2001. The eternal one, Chris Brown, has been a World Indoor Champion and three times a bronze medalist indoors. Then, there is the great reputation, Brown and others have built for The Bahamas in the 1,600m relay, inclusive of the gold medal from the 2001 World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics gold medal. Pauline Davis-Thompson won a World Outdoor Championships silver medal in the 400m.

The Bahamas also has 1,600m relay silver and bronze Olympic medals; and two silvers and a bronze from world championships, courtesy of the country’s depth in male quarter-milers.

In an earlier era, prior to the turn of the 21st century, quarter-milers were in abundance. Among the women, there were Gail North-Saunders and Elaine Thompson, who were the best in their day. Later, came the likes of Oralee Fowler and Maryann Higgs of the fairer sex.

Oscar Francis, Winston Cooper, Hugh Bullard, Julian Brown, Hardie Miller, Malcolm Adderley, Darrell Bartlett, Leslie Miller, Mike Sands, Allan Ingraham and many others made up the rich pool of Bahamian male quarter-milers who were outstanding and paved the way for the present era of dynamic world-beaters.

Basil Neymour is another name from that early group. His career was not long. He reportedly began to get some attention around 1959, and by 1963 his fade from the scene had started. There was that time though, at St. Augustine’s College (SAC), when Neymour had his most notable day, a bittersweet one albeit.

A few days ago, Cleso Munnings reminisced. Munnings ranks right up there with Oscar Francis as the best long distance/middle distance runners in the history of this country. He “lived” track and field for many of his 76 years, and he has a keen memory. Munnings recalled the occasion at SAC.

“I tell you, it was around 1962. The two top rival clubs in track and field, the Pioneers and St. Bernard’s, hooked up in the 4x400. I remember that Basil won the open 400 that day and was a big favorite when we came to the relay. Our team was Hugh Bullard starting and passing off to Perry Christie (Prime Minister), with George Collie on the third leg and I anchored.

“Hugh and Perry had a mishap. Somehow, Hugh fell down when he was about to pass and he ended up on top of the baton. Perry had to roll him over to get the baton. Then, came the real excitement. Basil went to the third leg spot for St. Bernard’s and George Collie went there for us. Basil had won the open event but on that relay, Collie was the master and he gave us a big lead. I didn’t have to do much to bring the bacon home,” recalled Munnings.

Neymour ran the relay that day with Tom Grant, as Munnings remembers, and possibly Hardie Miller or Akel Clarke, as suggested by another St. Bernard’s star, Livingstone “Bones” Hepburn. That was the kind of day Neymour had, his most notable one as an athlete. The results of the events from that meet sort of mirrored his life. He won some and lost on other occasions, but he always rose up to stand tall and continue making his contributions to the development of the Bahamian society, particularly, the youthful members.

Nothing much is remembered about Neymour as a competitor following that relay event, but the aforementioned affords readers a brief trip down memory lane to pay further tribute to one of the great iconic figures of Bahamian sports.

Basil O. Neymour, 71, will long be remembered.

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

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