Oaktree comes on board as title sponsor; Fidelity to be gold partner
With the advent of a youth component at the nationals for the first time, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) is set to stage its largest athletics national championships ever, taking place in nine days’ time at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The 2022 BAAA National Youth, Junior and Senior Championships, under the title sponsorship of Oaktree Medical Center, will be held June 24 and 25 at the national stadium. A relay carnival, giving Bahamian relay teams, and other teams from around the region, an opportunity to qualify for the World Athletics (WA) Outdoor Championships, will take place the following day.
The BAAA nationals get underway at 9 a.m. on the two days of the meet, and the relay carnival is set to start at 2 p.m. that Sunday.
Close to 600 athletes, Bahamians and visitors are expected to compete during the weekend.
The BAAA welcomed two sponsors during the official launch of the event yesterday – title sponsor Oaktree Medical and gold partner Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) Ltd.
“We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the greatest show on Earth, June 24-26,” said BAAA President Drumeco Archer. “This is an event for the entire family – a family reunion. We welcome our international guests who will compete with a view of qualifying for the word championships and, for the first time, we have included a youth component to our national program, thereby giving recognition to our growing sprouts who will one day become the face of athletics in The Bahamas. We have gone three years with not having the primary schools track and field championships, so we recognized that it was imperative for us to provide a replacement to ensure the protection of our program and the advancement of the youth. We will have the same focus in staging a nationwide talent search and athlete development program in advance of the CARIFTA Games on our home soil next year. We have to think along the lines of being in tune with the long-term sustainable goals of the federation and, with that in mind, we have to encompass the youth.”
As for the elite athletes, Archer said that it’s imperative that they compete. It’s mandatory for national team selection – particularly for the world championships and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Championships this summer.
The world championships is set for July 15-24 in what is known as Track Town, USA – Eugene, Oregon in the United States. The fourth edition of the NACAC Championships is set for August 19-21 at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
“The senior athletes always say they look forward to enjoying the support of the Bahamian fans and, once again, we have an opportunity to not just see our heroes, who we usually see just on television, in living color, at our nationals, but we also feel that we are stronger than ever,” said Archer. “We’re more talented than we have ever been and that is with the collective effort of the athletes, coaches, fans, the government of The Bahamas, corporate partners and all of the stakeholders in making our success a reality.
“We thank our title partner Oaktree Medical for coming on board with us, and we are equally thankful for our gold partner Fidelity which is a new and prolific partner demonstrating their commitment to our sport. It is this kind of support that bolsters the success of our federation and we are firmly in the position that this year’s nationals will be extra special because of it.”
Oaktree Medical Center Medical Director Dr. Don Deveaux said it was an honor and pleasure for them to come on board and be in partnership with the BAAA in the staging of the nationals. The title sponsorship of the event covers $25,000.
“We are a community and, when we see these events being hosted, we search out opportunities to be involved,” said Deveaux. “We have to give back, and it’s in the spirit of giving back that drives everything we do. We are a small nation with big people problems and if we could just come together as a community and show unity, we could go a long way. We want to be supportive as best as possible.”
Fidelity Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gowon Bowe said on their end, it is very heartening to be a part of something that is positive.
“It starts in our schools and with our athletic ability. We don’t often enough emphasize the positive elements, even though we would be pulling for one athlete over the next but, ultimately, we all want Bahamian talent to go on to the world stage and excel. At Fidelity, we know that we are only as good as those persons around us and how we help them build. This is a new element for us as it relates to athletics, and for us, it’s an exciting time – to watch talent evolve and show support. We are a nation of 400,000 people who have won the Olympics time and time again on a per capita basis. If we could be a part of something that contributes toward that, we embrace it. In that respect, whenever there is an opportunity to support an event as a sponsor, we are going to be involved in youth development, ensuring that those elements that are good for us as a country are those elements that we are behind. So, we welcome the partnership and we look forward to being a part of athletic elements in the future.”
The registration deadline for the meet is this Friday at 9 p.m.
One of the meet organizers, who also serves as special events coordinator of the BAAA, Laura Pratt-Charlton, said they are anticipating that all of The Bahamas’ elite athletes will be in action. The meet is open to spectators.
“We are asking the public to come out and show their support for the athletes,” she said. “All of the elite athletes are expected to be here and they are going to put on a show. It’s going to be a family affair. There is going to be a kids corner, there will be giveaways and the kids will have an opportunity to have autograph sessions with the athletes. Also, a number of international athletes are registered, looking for an opportunity to qualify for the world championships. For the relay carnival on Sunday, that will get underway at 2 p.m. and it will feature Bahamian and international teams, and also members of corporate Bahamas, civil groups, law enforcement, the media and anyone who wants to take part. It’s going to be a festive time for all.”
So far, international athletes from Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands have registered to take part.
Once again, the meet will get underway at 9 a.m. on Friday and again at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The evening session for both days will start at 5 p.m. The relay carnival will start at 2 p.m. that Sunday.