Medal-winners hungry for more on return
Bermuda’s triumphant trio returned to the island from the Commonwealth Youth Games last night with their medals draped proudly around their necks.
Cyclists Matthew Oliveira and Alyssa Rowse, and athlete Sakari Famous received a rapturous welcome at the LF Wade International Airport after bringing home four medals from Nassau, Bahamas.
A pair of scintillating rides by Oliveira in the boys’ time-trial and road race accounted for half of those, a gold and bronze, while Rowse captured bronze in the girls’ time-trial.
Famous, who at 17 is the same age as Oliveira and Rowse, capped off Bermuda’s most successful display at the multi-sport event by leaping to a bronze in the girls’ high jump.
Overjoyed to have announced himself on the junior world stage in such a fashion, Oliveira said his pair of medals had fuelled his fire for further success at major competitions.
“It’s such a great feeling and I didn’t expect all of these cameras to here pointing at us,” said Oliveira, the Bermuda flag-bearer at the closing ceremony.
“I enjoy the support and it’s great to have my family and friends here. It helps my motivation.
“I was more than happy with my performances over the two races and showed myself what I’m capable of.”
Rowse admits she far exceeded her expectations as she believed a podium finish was out of reach against some of the best young cyclists in the world.
She came close to a second bronze in the road race, placing fourth after getting “boxed in” during a sprint finish.
“Winning bronze felt unreal at first and it took a while to sink in,” said Rowse, whose medal was Bermuda’s first at a Commonwealth Youth Games.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a medal at all and it’s a great accomplishment considering I was up against some of the top juniors in the world. It was definitely a confidence booster.”
Peter Dunne, the Bermuda Bicycle Association president, believes the displays of the team’s riders “demonstrated that we have some legitimate talent on the island”.
Kaden Hopkins, Bermuda’s third rider in Nassau, narrowly missed out on a podium after coming sixth in the time-trial, just a few seconds off third place.
“I’m delighted with the performances of Alyssa, Kaden and Matthew,” Dunne said. “They have been superb competitors and have helped burnish Bermuda’s reputation in the sporting community with the way they have represented our country.
“The chief commissaire sent me a note after the time-trial expressing his pleasant surprise at how well our three riders did. He repeated his observation following the road race.”
Famous jumped a season-best of 1.76 metres to claim bronze and said she always felt a medal was within her grasp.
“It was great to come out with a medal,” Famous said. “The atmosphere was fantastic and it was fun to have team-mates from other sports.
“I definitely had a medal in mind and I’m very glad I got it. A season best was awesome, too.”
Nassau played host to the sixth Games, featuring athletes aged 18 and under from 70 Commonwealth nations and UK overseas territories, competing in nine sports.
Accompanying Bermuda’s team on their journey home was the Queen’s Baton, which made its way to the island as part of the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay.
The relay began its 288-day, 230,000-kilometres journey — which will include 71 Commonwealth nations and territories — at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II placing her message of goodwill in the Baton. It will conclude on April 4, 2018 at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, where the Queen’s message will be read.
So far, the Baton has travelled through Africa and the Caribbean, with its most recent stop in the Bahamas, coinciding with the Commonwealth Youth Games.
The Baton’s tour of Bermuda kicks off the Americas leg of the relay, which will also see the Baton tour Canada, Belize, Guyana and the Falkland Islands, before heading to Europe.
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