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Pacers reveal first Hall of Fame class

Inaugural class: the first inductees into the Bermuda Pacers Hall of Fame. From left: Bean, Rookes, Donawa, Paynter, Smith and Wellman (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Seven athletes — including an Olympian, two May 24 Half Marathon Derby champions, a national cross country champion and a five-time Athlete of the Year — have been inducted into the Bermuda Pacers Track Club’s first Hall of Fame.

The first inductees are Terrylynn Paynter, Leslie Rookes, Terrance Armstrong, DeVon Bean, Jay Donawa, Kevin Smith and Brian Wellman. They were chosen after coming through the Pacers programme in the 1980s and going on to enjoy outstanding careers in track, including Olympian Bean who became the first and only Bermudian to be inducted into the East Coast Gold Medal Hall of Fame.

“The Bermuda Pacers Track Club’s Hall of Fame is being established to honour outstanding persons, living or deceased, who have made substantial contributions on behalf of themselves and Bermuda in the sport of track and field,” said Wayne Raynor, the president of the Bermuda Pacers, who are celebrating their 35th anniversary.

“We’ve been putting it together for the past 18 months, the idea came up because this is our 35th anniversary year and we wanted to do something significant to help educate the public about the Pacers and what we’re about,” said Raynor whose club received an Appreciation Award at last week’s Bermuda Government Sports Awards.

“We thought it would be good for our young people to see some role models, to grab the vision that ‘if I do well in track, do well in academics that I can get a [track] scholarship’, and that they can become good citizens from the examples that they have in front of them.”

The inauguration will be held on April 29 at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club from 2pm to 4pm. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at www.events.bermslist.com or by calling 337-0088.

“The criteria to select our inductees was they had to be a member of Bermuda Pacers for a number of years,” Sharon Wilkinson, who chaired the selectuion committee, said. “They must have competed at the East Coast Invitational and received medals and must have represented Bermuda at either the Carifta Games, Junior CAC, IAAF indoor or outdoor meets, CAC Games or Olympics.”

Smith, a nine-time winner of the May 24 race who started in track with the Bermuda Striders in 1976 and competed with Pacers at the East Coast Invitational meets from 1979 to ‘83. He also competed at Carifta and the NACAC Cross Country Championships.

“It’s always great to know they are taking time out to acknowledge athletes over the years, I’m honoured that we’re being acknowledged,” Smith said.

Paynter and Rookes were both throwers, with Paynter starting her career in 1985 and in her first appearance at the East Coast Invitational a year later, she won gold in the javelin.

In 1987 she competed in her first Carifta Games, winning another gold in the javelin.

As well as Carifta, Paynter competed in the Junior CAC Games, Junior World Championships and Pan American Games.

“The Pacers helped to ground me very early, with Cal Dill and Cal Simons getting together and getting me up here to the track,” Paynter said.

“My earliest memory was when I went to the East Coast and Mr Simons told me ‘I think you can break the record today’. I broke it on the first throw.

“Pacers have definitely been a great experience and is definitely great for the kids.

“The advice I would give them is not to get caught up in the glorious sports like cricket and football because track and field definitely offers you more. I wish I had focused more on track and field.”

Rookes started with the Bermuda Pacers at the age of 14 and placed fourth in the discus in her first East Coast Invitational meet.

Rookes, who also competed in the shot, had a personal best throw in the discus of 39.26 metres and won gold and silver at the Carifta Games.

She is a former Denton Hurdle Memorial Trophy winner for high school students.

Armstrong, who lives in the United States, began with the Bermuda Pacers in 1983 and competed at East Coast from 1985 to ‘88. a three-time winner of the May 24 Half Marathon, Armstrong also competed at the junior and senior CAC and Commonwealth Games.

Bean, now the director of Athletes for the Bermuda National Athletics Association, also began with the Pacers in 1983. Thirteen years later the sprinter competed in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Bean first competed at Carifta at age 12 and also competed in the Pan Am Games and CAC Championships and will accompany Bermuda’s team to this month’s Carifta Games in Curaçao as coach.

Donawa joined the Pacers in 1982 and, like Bean, was a young student of Pacers coach Cal Simons at West End Primary. Donawa won silver medals in the 11-12 boys 800 metres at East Coast in 1984 and has represented Bermuda in Carifta Games, CAC and IAAF Cross Country championships. He is an 11-times Bermuda National Cross Country champion.

Wellman went on to become one of the world top triple jumpers after starting with the Pacers in 1983. In 1985 he won his first gold medal at the East Coast meet. He also competed at Carifta, indoor and outdoor worlds, the CAC Games and the Olympics and is a five-time Bermuda Athlete of the Year.