Wellington Miller, Carlton Bowleg and Evon Wisdom hold a sample of the new track surface while Timothy Munnings, Michael Tovcan and Carl Oliver look on. Photo – Aletha Cooper
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#The Pan American Sports Organisation (PASO) has agreed to provide the Bahamas Olympic Committee with a grant for $200,000 for the reconstruction of a track and field facility at the Carl Oliver Stadium on the ground of the Huntley Christie High School in Nicholl’s Town, North Andros.
#Michael Tovan, a representative of Mondo Surfaces, attended a press conference yesterday at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology where he outlined plans for the construction that will commence once he visits the facility today.
#Evon Wisdom, the sports director in the Ministry of Education, said they are delighted to be able to partner once again with the BOC on the reconstruction of the stadium.
#It was opened in April, 1982 by the late Prime Minister Lynden Pindling and Member of Parliament for North Andros and the Berry Islands Loftus Roker, who was also the Minister of Labour at the time.
#In 2000, the facility was renamed the Carl Oliver Jr Stadium as a result of his role as a member of the third leg of the men’s 4 x 400 metre relay team that clinched the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
#Wellington Miller, president of the BOC, a native of Andros, said it’s a proud day for all Androsians as they will benefit from a facility that will not only focus on track and field, but also soccer.
#“This will be the third track in the Bahamas that Mondo would have constructed,” Miller said. “I’m told that the event will take about six months to be completed. I’m told that it will be track, but there will be more activities that will be able to be played there.”
#Through their connection with PASO, Miller said they would seek to provide more funding to have other facilities constructed throughout the Bahamas.
#Carlton Bowleg, the newly elected MP for North Andros and the Berry Islands, said they welcome the project with open arms.
#“This is something that is going to go very far in the community of North Andros,” he said. “Right now, it is a struggle in North Andros with employment and this will provide jobs for the people.”
#Bowleg said Oliver has done a lot in terms of recognition for North Andros and so they are delighted that the facility that bears his name will be remodeled and reinvigorate the interest of some of the top athletes returning there to compete.
#“I look forward to the completion of this event so that we can get more people to come to North Andros and the Berry Islands,” he said. “We look forward to the next six months and more things coming out of the island.”
#Tovan said the Bahamas has become a top-notch location for track and field, judging from the staging of the past three IAAF World Relays and the Carifta Games and other sporting events that have been hosted at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
#“The Bahamas is now becoming an important player in sporting events in track and field,” he said. “So congratulations to all involved in getting this stadium constructed.”
#He noted that he would have visited the facility today, he will return to their head office where they will produce a surface that will be a combination of training and competing to put down in the facility over an estimated six month period.
#While it will take about two weeks for their staff to produce the surface, Tovan said it would then be sent to the Bahamas for its final approval.
#Having come certified from their company, Tovan said there wouldn’t be any issue with meeting all of the international requirements as their company will ensure that it meets all of the requirements before they turn the facility over to the Bahamas.
#“It won’t be the same track that we have in Rio (Brazil where the 2016 Olympic Games was held). It will be similar,” Tovan said. “You will be able to hold a national championship there.”
#Once the facility is completed, Tovan said it would provide an opportunity for the residents of Andros to erect concession stands where they can earn an income.
#He said when they get ready for the construction, they will also employ a number of residents to assist in making it one of the best facilities to train in the region because it’s a known fact that everybody want to come to the Bahamas.
#Oliver, who remember when he attended the Mastic Point Primary School and was not one of the top athletes, but was allowed to compete on the relay team by his physical education teacher. Their team went on to win the title and as they say, the rest was history for Oliver.
#In thanking all of the stakeholders for their support in making the upgrade a reality, Oliver said with more events expected to be staged in the facility, they will have to provide more housing to accommodate the people when they show up.
#“Currently we have on board in February, the North Andros High Track Invitational,” he said. “I could see that event being ballooned much higher than it is right now. One of the reasons we don’t have all of the top athletes going there is the condition of the surface.
#“Compared to the time that I ran on it, it’s not in the best condition. I wouldn’t recommend athletes training on, especially in spikes. It’s too hard to penetrate. But I do believe this is a step in the right direction, not just for North Andros, but the whole of Andros.”
#With a much better facility to train on when completed, Oliver put the rest of the Bahamas on notice, indicating that they can expect to see a lot more outstanding athletes coming from North Andros.
#Timothy Munnings, the Director of Sports at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, said as a former teammate of Oliver, he too is looking forward to the reconstruction of the facility.
#“I was there when the stone was laid at the naming of the track, we ran on the track when we started our tour for the Olympic and so it’s not an easy track to run on, so we welcome the wonderful change,” he said.
#With so many people who attended the North Andros Track Invitational in the past, Munnings said he expect that the numbers will increase when the reconstruction is done.
#Her also commended Oliver, who seemed to be the Major whenever he goes home, having served as an excellent ambassador for the country.
#“This is the first synthetic facility that will be done in the Bahamas outside of New Providence and Grand Bahama,” he said. “We are very excited about this opportunity that will be coming to North Andros.”
#When the facility is completed, Oliver said he’s looking forward to his Olympic teammates. Including Munnings, Avard Moncur, Troy McIntosh and Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown join him in a meet that they hope to put on to christen the new facility.
#He said the spectators might just get a treat when they suit up to run a relay, but he’s not certain how well they will do.