For Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer, the death of standout Bahamian athlete Shavez ‘Sparky’ Hart, an Olympian and world championships medalist, really hit home. Not only was he a mentor to Hart as the head of the BAAA, but he said he spoke with him personally many times over the phone regarding athletics and other aspects of life.
Hart was gunned down early Saturday morning on his home island of Abaco. An altercation had developed in a parking lot of a business establishment situated in Mount Hope, North Abaco, and according to his father, Hart was acting as a peacemaker before being shot in the chest. He was later pronounced dead at the local clinic, succumbing to the gun shot wound just three days before his 30th birthday.
Archer, who returned to the country after a weekend trip late Sunday night, said he was devastated by the news.
“He was a good boy, positive, responsible, determined and full of life – a life we hope that many young men would emulate one day as an athlete and as a virtuous Bahamian,” said Archer. “He was a bright man with so many brilliant ideas which extended beyond the bounds of sport. He was committed to his family and in the aftermath of the Hurricane Dorian, in order to be closer to his family, he decided to reconvene his training in Freeport instead of returning to training camp in Florida.”
Hart, who is from Treasure Cay, Abaco, attended Treasure Cay Primary and S.C. Bootle Secondary in Abaco before finishing his high school education at St. George’s High in Freeport, Grand Bahama. He went on to attend South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, breaking school records in athletics and receiving conference and national acclaim. Hart finished his collegiate career at the Texas A&M University, setting his mark as one of the more substantial and impactful runners in school history. To date, he is a part of the school’s record team in the men’s 4x100m relay.
Archer said he received a call around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning informing him of Hart’s passing. He said the talented Bahamian speedster had walked away from the sport about a year and a half ago, but was still active, helping to train young athletes on Abaco.
“I come to you with a heavy heart and a volcano of emotions over the passing of Shavez,” said Archer. “When Shavez bade his goodbyes to the sport, I then realized that he had become a man who was beginning to write a new chapter in his life. It was a chapter filled with new adventure, new beginnings, new entrepreneurial aspirations and even new characters. After the scream of one single word ‘gone’, I realized that the life of a man with so much promise was taken away from us with one single bullet.
“On reflection, this is a testimony of why we as a track and field community work with thousands of athletes on a daily basis. As community developers, we as a track and field family create a safe space for people just like Shavez. It means that his life will not be in vain and we remain inspired to continue the work for children all across this country.”
Hart was a close and personal friend of Fred Kerley – the American who won the 100m world title in Eugene, Oregon in the United States this year, claiming the title of the world’s fastest man. Hart even trained with Kerley on a few occasions and was a huge reason why the American frequented The Bahamas for offseason training and conditioning and leisure time.
In coming home to train, Hart’s focus was to become a home-grown, world-class athlete, until deciding to call it quits a year and a half ago. He is survived by his mother Shammaine, father Sidney, 14-month old son Chase, three siblings and a host of other family members and friends.
“Maybe one day young Chase Hart will continue to live the legacy of his father,” said Archer. “Without the power of being able to make such predictions on one’s life, I take solace in knowing that we as a track and field community will continue to support and raise him as we have raised his father. On behalf of the executive board and the entire BAAA family, we extend our deepest, warmest and most solemn condolences to the family and friends of Shavez Hart. Hart’s heart will forever be in our hearts. May his heart and soul rest in peace.”
Hart ended his athletics career with personal best times of 10.10 seconds and 20.23 seconds in the 100 and 200m respectively, and was a formidable 400m runner as well, thereby setting his mark as one of the best 100-200-400 combo runners in Bahamian history. Indoors, he had personal best times of 6.60 seconds in the 60m and 20.57 seconds in the 200m.
He is a member of the South Plains College record team in the men’s 4x100m relay, a member of the Texas A&M University record team in the men’s 4x100m relay, a member of The Bahamas’ national record team in the men’s 4x100m relay, and a member of The Bahamas’ national record team in the men’s 4x400m relay indoors.
Internationally, he represented The Bahamas at the CARIFTA Games, the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Athletics Championships, the World Athletics Indoor Championships, the World Athletics Outdoor Championships and the Olympic Games just to name a few.
His most prestigious medal is a silver from the men’s 4x400m relay at the 2014 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, US.