With the Olympic Games just about one year off, and with athletes trying to decide whether or not they will have what it takes to make it to the prestigious level in Track and Field, perhaps two Grand Bahama athletes are already proving that they indeed have what it takes to compete in the Olympics.
Andre Williams and Michael Matthews of Neymour Athletics may be off to college, but they are still making Grand Bahamians proud. Not only have the two athletes done remarkably well on the college circuit, but they made a trip to Nassau this past weekend and gave Nassau athletes a glimpse of what to expect when the time comes for the selection of a National team that will represent The Bahamas at the Olympics.
Particular mention should be made of Andre Williams, who dominated the Open Men’s 400m, beating out Olympic medallist Timothy Munnings and Carl Oliver, with a time of 46.2 to take the gold medal in the Coaches’ Association Meet held at the Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium in Nassau.
Michael Matthews finished with a time of 47.4. Jerell Forbes also of Neymour Athletics competed in the Meet and won the 100m in a time of 10.54.
Andre is already showing that he can make the Olympic team,” said Basil Neymour, sponsor of Neymour Athletics. “Both he and Michael have proven themselves not only in The Bahamas, but also while they’re away in school. If anyone may be wondering who we will have to vie for a spot on the Olympic team, they can look at Andre and Michael, without a doubt.
“These guys are ready for the Olympics and they will do Grand Bahama proud. At least we can be sure of two runners for the relay team as well as for the 400m. And not just these two, there are a few others who we will be hearing more about as time goes on, who have the potential and the talent to make the Olympic team. And I’m extremely proud of each one of them.”
But Neymour’s boasting is not just haphazard. Over the years and in recent months, he has ensured that all of his athletes, particularly his senior athletes get as much exposure as is possible, paying for them to travel to Meets abroad.
“It’s my commitment to these athletes, their parents and to the Bahamian people, to make sure that we develop more ‘golden girls’ and ‘golden boys’,” added Neymour.
But apart from being able to compete at International Meets, athletes like Andre and Michael get an opportunity almost everyday to improve their running skills, as they compete with their respective college track clubs.
In fact, since leaving for college months ago, both Andre and Michael have made their mark not just at their colleges, but on the college circuit.
Andre was recently honoured by his college as MVP for track and field and received the team captain award. Michael was named “Freshman of the Year” at his college and continues to surprise his coaches.
“The training in college has been great, although it’s the challenge of trying to adjust to the air in Texas compared to The Bahamas,” said Andre, in a recent interview.
“But it’s the challenge of training with guys who may be a bit better than you are. All of that helps to give you a sense of having the edge. When I first went it was hard because there were guys much better than me, but now, as my skill grows, I’m feeling more confident and relaxed.”
Andre admits that he has his eyes set on the Olympics, but there are a few other goals he hopes to achieve even before considering the Olympics. Andre specializes in the 400m and can run the 800m if necessary. But his main goal is to run the 400m and the 4x400m relay on the upcoming National team.
Also setting his eyes on the Olympics is Michael Matthews, who also happens to be at college in Texas. He admits that it’s been tough competing in Texas because of the level of competition that exists. However, he’s convinced that his times are improving and he’s committed himself to continue training hard.
“I’ve been trying to compete as much as I could not just in Texas, but in other parts of the US,” said Matthews. “I feel that the more I can compete, the better my chances of improving my running times. I’m training six days a week for hours at a time. The Olympics is only a year away, so I need to train and compete as much as possible.”
Michael, along with Andre and other members of Neymour Athletics competed in Florida about two weeks ago and both athletes performed extremely well.
“I’m happy to see that not only are these guys performing well on the track, but that their academics have also been good,” said Neymour. “The reports from their colleges about their behaviour is excellent and that’s what we want to see happen. We don’t only want to train great athletes, but we want to create great human beings who will go on and make a positive contribution to society.”
Neymour along with coaches, Roger Charlton and Joe Simmons are looking to have as many Grand Bahama athletes as possible selected to the Bahamian Olympic team.