SIR DURWARD KNOWLES (left) and CECIL COOKE
March 2, 2020
However, organizers are moving right along with the schedules for both the mainstream summer Olympics, slated to open July 24, and, the Paralympics which has an August 25 start date. The famed aspect of the Olympics, the torch relay, is scheduled to begin in the city of Fukushima on March 26. So, unless the brewing pandemic, coronavirus, becomes more significantly a factor, all signs are go.
The prospect of the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, brings to the surface, once again for many, some very pleasant memories. The last time the Olympics took place in Japan (Tokyo), in 1964, The Bahamas had some of its greatest moments in national sports history.
Those special happenings were etched in history by three gallant and talented Bahamian men, who hailed from the middle eastern section of New Providence. I refer to Durward Knowles (later knighted), Cecil Cook and Tommy Robinson.
The former two captured the second Olympic medal (the first was a bronze in Star Class sailing by Knowles and Slone Farrington in 1956) for The Bahamas; and, the first gold, also in the Star Class of the sailing competition.
Robinson made history of his own by becoming the first Bahamian to reach a final in the sport of track and field (the 100 meters).
We were still a colony (Independence did not come until 1973), but there was joy in Bahamaland when Knowles and Cooke achieved the Olympic gold medal breakthrough for the country. They outclassed a star-studded field, pushing the United States’ team of Richard Sterns and Lynn Williams into second place, and the Swedish pair, Pelle Pettersson and Holger Sundstrom into third.
Robinson went into the final of the 100 meters considered a strong medal threat. It was generally felt that the three medals would come from the foursome, inclusive of Robinson, “Bullett” Bob Hayes of the United States; Enrique Figuerola of Cuba; and Canadian Harry Jerome. A medal was not to be for the Bahamian however, as Robinson pulled a muscle and limped across the finish line, in eighth place. Hayes won the gold, Figuerola was second and the bronze went to Jerome.
There were no world championships in track and field at the time so the Olympics represented, officially, the best in the world. Robinson, though disappointed because of his injury, nevertheless left Tokyo as a finalist and the No. 8 rank in the world for the 100 meters.
Fifty-six years later, Bahamians will be on the Olympic stage in Tokyo once more. This time around, at last two representatives (sprinters Steve Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo) will be favored to be finalists, and, medalists as well.
There are high expectations for Gardiner and Miller-Uibo, but whether they are realized or not, the Olympic memories of 1964 in Tokyo, will remain very pleasant ones forever.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).