|World relays team already hard at work|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Dec 20, 2013
Appointed executive chairman for the world relays Keith Parker is hoping that Santa Claus can come down the chimney with a sack full of good news. Most pressing is the completion of a number of items on a long to-do list for the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the 2014 International Association of Athletic Federation’s (IAAF) World Relay Championships.
The senior executive management team of the LOC, comprising of a number of local sporting leaders, divided the event into three phases - planning, mobilization and execution. As of Thursday, it was revealed that work is still being done on phase one, which is planning. The team is five months outside of the hosting of the relays, May 24-25 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
Representatives from the IAAF have done a number of site visits, and have also granted the country a waiver, for not having two warm-up tracks, which is usually required for a global event.
“We are delighted that they have reported very favorably on our work,” said Parker. “They recognized that there is a lot of work still to be done. The IAAF representatives seem to be very pleased with our planning. We have appointed about 25 part-time employees, engaged right now from September. We will require hundreds, probably about 600 or even more volunteers in the various departments. We anticipate it being a great event for The Bahamas.
“Number one on the list is the stadium itself. Not only this particular stadium, but also the warm-up facility. In fact, the IAAF has waived one of the usual requirements for hosting a world championships event. It usually requires two warm-up tracks. As you know, we only have one warm-up track but we have a 120-meter straight, which is in very bad shape at the moment. We are going to renovate that. The IAAF accepted that and is satisfied at the moment about the two facilities. Other than that, we are doing all the planning to do with certification, traveling, hotels, transport, security, and the list just goes on and on and on. We have a team with wide experiences and contacts.”
The senior executive management team includes Parker, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Mike Sands, who will sit in as the vice chairman of the LOC, Grafton Ifill Jr. who has been appointed LOC executive administrator with government relations, Lionel Haven who is the managing director, and Eric Savard who is the event consultant from the IAAF. There is also an appointed board of directors with about 14-18 persons.
This full team will be charged with the responsibilities of pulling off the biggest international sporting event to ever be held in The Bahamas. As of today, 47 countries have confirmed participation which means more than 1,000 athletes and coaches will likely be here for the world relays. Parker is expecting this count to increase as the event approaches.
He said: “The relay event is not your traditional 4x100 meters (m) or 4x400m. It also involves 4x200m, which we expect to be a very exciting event. I am almost certain that we will have a world record established in that. There is also the 4x800m, which is somewhat an unusual event but we have a strong entry already from the African countries that excel in the distance events. We believe it is going to be a truly exciting event which will provide a lot of publicity for The Bahamas and bring our hosting capabilities to the attention of the entire world.”
The LOC plans to use all of the high school and BAAA sanctioned track and field meets as trial runs. The biggest test will be the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational, scheduled for April 12, 2014.