LEGENDARY Frank Rutherford, far left, poses with some of the athletes he worked with on Harbour Island, Eleuthera.
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior sports Reporter
#IT was 31 years ago that Frank Rutherford soared to the Bahamas’ first track and field medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. He felt the bronze has propelled the Bahamas to earning a medal in every Olympiad thereafter.
#The historic feat came on August 3 at the Olympic Stadium where Rutherford soared 56-feet, 11 1/2-inches or 17.36 metres to trail the American duo of gold medallist Mike Conley, who did 59-7 1/2 (18.17m) and Charles Simpkins with 57-9 (17.60m).
#“It is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Rutherford, who reflected on his feat with his usual trip to Harbour Island. “It was an awesome day for the Bahamas.”
#Although it has rarely been brought up in national conversations, Rutherford said he was pleased to have set the stage for what was to come for so many athletes who followed and competed in every Olympiad.
#“This is something that I honestly live for,” Rutherford said. “I can’t explain in words what the emotions that I went through. I am just pleased that I was able to set the stage for the country.”
#Rutherford, now residing in Houston, Texas with his family where he’s currently working as an assistant at his alma mater at the University of Houston, said he carried the country on his shoulders at the games and he delivered the first Olympic medal.
#“It was so special because there were only a few people in the stands, including Dr Patrick Roberts, BAAA president Mike Sands and Brent Stubbs, the reporter, who covered the event,” Rutherford said.
#“I remember in the press conference with the three medallists present, you asked me what it meant to have won the first medal for the Bahamas. I could only remember the look on your face as you shed some tears because of the momentous accomplishment.”
#The 58-year-old Rutherford, who was 27 years at the time, said he knew he had a legitimate shot at winning the title.
#That was why he was so confident going into the competition. He went on to win the silver medal at the World Cup in Cuba a month later.
#Rutherford, who was also the first Bahamian to win both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the triple jump in the same year in 1987, said he is still disappointed that he has not received the accolades that he deserves for his accomplishments.
#“Before I won the medal, I was promised a gift of land and a house by the then Government of the Bahamas,” he recalled. “After I won it, there was a change in government, but it was never honoured.
#“Today, we’re hearing of athletes getting land, houses and even having streets named after them, but I’ve got nothing to show for my achievement. It’s sad, but I am still happy to have been the pioneer to set the stage for so many others to follow.”
#Rutherford said he will forever be grateful for the opportunity he got to represent the country and to win the medal. He said it’s a part of Bahamian history that came less than a decade after the country gained Independence.
#So as the country celebrates its 50th Golden Jubilee, Rutherford said he’s just appreciative of the fact that he was able to ink his name in the almanacs of Bahamian sports that will last forever.