New Life Invitational headed to Grand Bahama

|Sports|New Life Invitational headed to Grand BahamaSports

Sheldon LongleySend an emailApril 14, 2023 748 5 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 Shown from left are Trevor Moss from the meet’s tech team, Meet Director Demarius Cash, NACAC Administrator Nikita Thompson, NACAC President Mike Sands and BAAA President Drumeco Archer. SHELDON LONGLEY

One of the biggest track and field meets on the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) calendar, the New Life Invitational, a World Athletics Continental Tour (WACT) Silver Level meet, is headed to the nation’s second city.

The 2nd NACAC New Life Invitational is set for May 13 from 4-8 p.m. at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Over 100 of the region’s elite 

athletes and stars at expected to compete, vying for their share of the $75,000 prize money.

The inaugural event was initially planned to be held in The Bahamas before it was diverted to Miramar, Florida, in the summer of 2021. Now established as a premier event in this region, organizers have their eyes fixated on a premier destination. NACAC President, Bahamian Mike Sands, said he is excited about the prospect of the meet and what it means for the island and economy of Grand Bahama. He said that the level of talent on display will rival that of any of the top meets in the United States and on this side of the world.

“This event is going to be fast and furious. We intend to make this an annual event and it is our hope that it will grow from strength to strength every year,” said Sands. “The meet is attracting the top athletes in our area and even some from outside our area. We also making provisions for local athletes, so that they will have an opportunity to compete against the region’s best and go after qualifying times for the world championships. The athletes are all very excited to come to The Bahamas and I’m certainly excited about it. We are looking forward to a very successful NACAC New Life Invitational in Freeport on May 13.”

The 2023 World Athletics (WA) World Outdoor Championships is set for August 19-27 at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary. Athletes will be looking to post qualifying times and distances for that mega global event, or garner enough ranking points to be invited to compete.

Sands said the NACAC New Life Invitational provides an avenue for athletes from this side of the world to qualify for the world championships.

“One of the positive aspects of the New Life Invitational is that athletes from this region won’t have to go to Europe to qualify for the world championships. They could do so right here on this side of the world, and because quite a few of them train and reside right there in South Florida, it will be a short journey for them,” said Sands. “The whole idea, from NACAC’s perspective, is to create and support events in this region, and I can tell you that the interest level among the athletes is very high. They are all looking forward to coming to The Bahamas.”

The last top-level one-day meet to be held in country was the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational (CBBI) at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau in 2016. Now, seven years later, track and field enthusiasts in the country are starving for high-level action in athletics. Sands said the elite professional athletes tend to flock to the Diamond League circuit, and other major meets in Europe, but the level of talent on display at the New Life Invitational would be able to rival a number of the major meets anywhere in the world. The Diamond League is an annual series of elite track and field athletic competitions comprising 14 of the best invitational athletics meetings in the world.

“There is no reason why we can’t create our own Diamond League on this side of the world and it would be ideal for the NACAC New Life Invitational to be the impetus of something like that,” said Sands. “We are looking for the support from the people of Grand Bahama and from all over The Bahamas in general. This is going to be fast and furious.”

The one-day event has received the support of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the 

Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation.

Trevor Moss from the meet’s tech team said they are looking to erect scoreboards to keep the spectators engaged and keep their enthusiasm level up during the event.

“We will support NACAC in whatever we can,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a great meet, which will lift The Bahamas to another level through athletics.”

The meet is sanctioned by the local governing body of the sport of athletics in the country, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA).

“It is indeed a pleasure on behalf of the governing body of athletics in the country to support this meet,” said BAAA President Drumeco Archer. “One of our mandates is to stimulate the sport of track and field throughout the country and to do that, we had to take an approach that is beyond the bounds of just local track and field competition. This is another opportunity for us to celebrate track and field in a way that the world has not seen in recent times in this area. I commend President Sands and NACAC for ensuring that track and field remains in the spotlight on the heels of what was simply a spectacular CARIFTA Games. We in the BAAA provide the fullest support to this undertaking.”

Sands said the NACAC New Life Invitational is an expensive venue, costing them about $250,000, including the $75,000 prize money.

“Events like this are very expensive. At the end of the day, we have to pay the athletes. This is a business for them and we are mandated by World Athletics to pay the athletes a certain amount,” said Sands. “This is taking a big chunk out of our competition budget, so we are always looking for sponsorship. When you look at what we are providing, accommodations and transportation, it is a costly venture, but it is necessary to provide adequate support to the athletes. They all want to come here because of what we are providing. In addition to competition, this is a vacation destination as well, so at the end of the day, we expect for all of them to have a great time here in The Bahamas,” he added.

The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort, otherwise known as Club Fortuna, is the host hotel of the meet. Events will consist of the men’s and women’s 100 meters (m), the men’s and women’s 200m, the 400m in both genders, the men’s and women’s 800m, the hurdles events in both genders, the men’s long jump and the women’s triple jump. A number of the events will be contested as straight finals. NACAC is utilizing a ranking system and the top 24 athletes in each discipline will be invited to compete.

He said, already, they have four sub-10-second male 100m runners and two sub-11 female 100m runners registered to compete. At the 2021 New Life Invitational, American Trayvon Bromell ran a world-leading time of 9.77 seconds. Later that year, he went on to run 9.76 seconds.

The New Life Invitational will be the third NACAC event to be held in The Bahamas within the last year. The NACAC Senior Athletics Championships was held from August 19-21, 2022, at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport and the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Games was held this past weekend at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. At the 2022 NACAC Senior Athletics Championships, a total of 25 championship records were set, indicating that the track at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex is a very fast one.

The NACAC New Life Invitational will be arguably the most anticipated track and field meet on Grand Bahama this year.

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