The very dynamic, enthusiastic Bahamas Gold Medalist, Pauline Davis-Thompson, visited Abaco on February 11 and 12 to promote the up-coming Bahamas 2014 World Relay that is to take place in Nassau May 24-25.
Arriving on the first Bahamas Air flight from Nassau on Tuesday, she was welcomed by the local representative of the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture, Ishmael Morley who had arranged for scheduled visits to the local TV station, to MP for North Abaco Mr. Renardo Curry, to hotel resorts in South and North Abaco and to several high schools.
During her interview with BCN producer, Pastor Silbert Mills, she gave a brief synopsis on how her sports career started when she was 12 years old.
“Initially, I just loved sports” said the athlete, “but once I started Track & Field, I just loved it. Once you cross the line you are a winner.” Mrs. Davis-Thompson topped her athletic career with two gold medals in the 200m and in the 4x100m relay in Sydney in 2000.
Getting back to the point of her visit, she talked about the scheduled world relays event to which over forty countries have pledged participation, including Jamaica and Kenya.
The most renowned world Track & Field athletes will compete in the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and 4x1500m.
Family islands will have an opportunity to participate in two categories: one lane, one island and in a high school category. High school students are invited to go to Nassau on May 9-10 to participate in trials that will qualify the top eight to enter the May 24-25 event.
During a short courtesy visit to North Abaco Member of Parliament Renardo Curry, Mrs. Davis -Thompson reiterated the information she had given on the television network. She explained that The Bahamas was particularly lucky to have been chosen to host the tournament as countries such as Brazil, Dubai and Qatar had been considered as a venue.
Mr. Curry expressed his hope that Abaco will be represented but that the island is waiting for a gymnasium in order for the athletes to train at home. Mrs. Davis-Thompson mentioned that a big green space would be as good as a track for the athletes to train, explaining that it was how Jamaicans trained.
She ended her comments by saying that she “would like to see the country become a power-house in sports as practicing sports was a way to learn determination and discipline and to build a strong character, qualities needed in adult life to become productive citizens.”
During her meeting with the resorts managers, Eugene Martin in Winding Bay and Stephen Kappeler in Treasure Cay, Mrs. Davis-Thompson offered them the opportunity to put together packages through the Ministry of Tourism to attract the visitors attending the competition, before or after the event.
Visits to four schools were on the agenda. In each school, except for Abaco Central High School where a whole assembly welcomed the Gold Medalist, a group of students from the higher grades assembled to listen to Mrs. Davis-Thompson’s presentation. Everywhere she was greeted with cheers and applause.
At St Francis de Sales, students lined up for her autograph. At Agape Christian School, known more for its winning Basketball program rather than Track & Field, a few students promised to try for the event. So did kids at SC Bootle High School and at Abaco Central High School. She mesmerized them with her enthusiasm and the way she made them feel that they could be part of that great athletic happening.
She had brought with her a baton sculpted in Lignum Vitae by artist Antonius Roberts and after passing it to all the students to hold for good luck, she had four students in each school act out a relay start-up with the symbolic baton that will be given to the IAAF President, Lamine Diack, to keep in a museum.
The Treasure Cay tour ended with a lunch of fresh fish at the Coco Bar, compliments of the Treasure Cay Hotel Resort and Marina.
This is a first time event for The Bahamas which, if successful, could determinate the possibility of further international sporting events held in our country, placing The Bahamas as an international sports tourism destination in our region of the world.