Bahamas welcomes sports icons

Caribbean sport hails its heroes in a gala event in the Bahamas this weekend.

Excitement is building for the staging of the second annual Caribbean Awards Sports Icons on Friday.

hamilton bahamas

Hamilton started CASI. Photo: Ron Shillingford

Last year, this historic initiative, the brainchild of Jamaican Al Hamilton, MBE, who now lives in London, had its inaugural staging in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston hosted a fabulous affair. Sports figures like Mike McCallum, Jimmy Adams, Aleen Bailey and Michael Frater attended, as well as Jack Warner the FIFA vice-president.

The Bahamas event at Hotel Breezes in Nassau is expected to surpass last year’s. Cayman has three boxers going; Dariel Ebanks, Kendall Ebanks and Jason Parchment.

Bahamas-based Fred Sturrup is a journalist and also president of the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization. He has been co-ordinating things with Hamilton.

It was Sturrup who convinced the Bahamas government and corporate sector to support CASI2 despite the recession.

Sturrup said: ‘I was honoured to be the guest speaker in Jamaica and the end result was a strong consensus for CASI 2009 to be held in the Bahamas.

‘Last year, the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization reached an understanding with CASI to work jointly in the effort to project the programme that pays fundamental tribute to those sports persons who have so greatly boosted the image of the Caribbean through sports since the late 1940s.

‘I applaud my very good friend, Caribbean brother and colleague Al Hamilton. You know, Al is a genius of an organizer. He has been successfully running the Commonwealth Awards for nearly 30 years.’

Sports greats attending CASI2 include former world champion boxer Emile Griffith, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, the Jamaican 100 metres hurdler who is the current world champion and a host of sports icons from across the Caribbean. There will be a number of sports figures from England too, as there were last year.

Some of the Bahamian Golden Girls squad have just gone into serious training for next year’s major competitions but they hope to make it on Friday too. They include Eldece Clark-Lewis, Pauline Davis-Thompson and Debbie Ferguson.

Michael Fennell (president of the Commonwealth Games Federation) will be there too.

The latest staging of the Commonwealth Sports Awards was in Leeds, England last month and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was the guest of honour.

‘Lennox went down a storm,’ said Hamilton. ‘We had just over 200 in attendance and Michael Fennell spoke favourably about the awards. A cross section of the sporting world attended, including Terry Marsh, Colin McMillan and Ricky Hill.’

Another highlight of the evening was a live video link from Jamaica with Usain Bolt.