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BTFA deserve award for year's achievements

If there was a category for an individual sport rather than the individual athlete at the upcoming Annual Sports Awards, there's little doubt where the resulting plaque would end up.

Track and Field has glided from the outside into the inside lane at the kind of speed of which Usain Bolt would be proud.

A confused and often ineffective Bermuda Track and Field Association for years failed to develop the kind of competitors which the Island had produced in days gone by - Clarence (Nicky) Saunders, Troy Douglas and Brian Wellman, and before them the likes of Debbie Jones, Cal Dill, Dennis Trott, Mike Sharpe to name but a few.

Certainly in the past 10 to 15 years, the sport had endured far more famine than feast.

But a new BTFA executive, led by the effervescent Donna Watson, has put track and field on course for a place among the best in the Caribbean region.

There's still much work to be done but the number of teenagers making their mark at colleges, universities and camps overseas, has grown substantially, many of them making the most of scholarships secured by the local governing body.

It's doubtful too many of them will be ready for the ultimate challenge at the London Olympic Games in 18 months time but if the progress and improving times and distances continue, then looking foward to CAC, Pan-Am and Commonwealth Games, the Island could produce a formidable contingent.

BTFA's own challenge is to build on what has already been achieved in the last couple of years.

Performances in the various age-group categories in events such as the Carifta Games trials, schools championships, and the Front Street Mile have shown there's an abundance of talent.

In the last year:

* Jeneko Place won two silver medals at the Carifta Games in the 200 metres and 100 metres in the Cayman Islands. He also claimed a silver and a bronze in the Under-17 sprint events at the CAC Juniors in Domincan Republic.

On top of that he represented Bermuda at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

* Distance runner Aaron Evans broke the 800 metres national record which had stood for 25 years, taking it away from his coach Steve Burgess.

Then he grabbed bronze at the NCAA Championships in the same event.

He also left with the silver medal at the NAC Under-23 Championships in Miami, again in the 800 metres.

* At the CAC Games in Puerto Rico, Tyrone Smith won the gold.

* In the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, sprinter Tre Houston reached the semi-finals of the 200 metres and set a new PB in the 100 metres.

These are just a few of the outstanding achievements in 2010, a positive sign of how talent is being developed far more vigorously than in the past.

Reasons for that stagnation don't need to be explained, suffice to say certain personnel weren't up to the job.

BTFA president Watson has managed to turn that around with a passion that has quickly rubbed off on those she has pushed and prodded to a higher standard.

Her decision to invite Wellman and Douglas to help with the coaching programme has brought in much-needed experience. Wellman is a former world indoor triple jump champion and Douglas the only Bermudian to reach three Olympic semi-finals, either in the 200 or 400 metres.

Perhaps Watson's greatest contribution has been to give track and field a much higher profile.

Rarely a week passes when information on those athletes overseas isn't passed onto the media. She's as much a public relations officer as president.

It's difficult for this Sports Desk to keep tabs on every Bermudian competing abroad, but e-mails from Watson almost every week of the year have made it possible to give these athletes the recognition they deserve.

And with that recognition comes an incentive to further improve their performances.

2010 has been a banner year for track and field, 2011 promises to be even better.


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Published December 31, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 31, 2010 at 7:34 am)

BTFA deserve award for year's achievements

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