Commentary: Why Grenada Should Establish a National Sports Hall of Fame

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By Michael Bascombe
CJ Sport Contributor

One of the biggest lessons learnt from Grenada’s campaign at last weekend’s IAAF World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey is to prepare for disappointments during the careers of our top-flight competitors – Kirani James and Rondell Bartholomew.

James’ failed attempt at the World Indoor 400 metre title last weekend is a clear indication of the ups and downs we must expect during his career.

It’s no different to Bartholomew’s disappointment in Daegu, South Korea last summer. Bartholomew entered the IAAF World Championships in Athletics as a favourite with a world-leading time of 44.65 seconds.
However, he was the victim of a long season and finished outside of the medals.

He decided to skip the indoor season this year and concentrate on competition starting in late spring.

James on the other hand, started the season with a bang, winning permit meets in Boston, Arkansas and Stockholm, but missed out on adding a second world title to his short but distinguished professional career.

Retired quarter-miler Alleyne Francique won the 2004 edition in Budapest, Hungary and repeated that performance in Moscow, Russia two years later.

I was particularly impressed with the 19 year-old’s acceptance of defeat. He displayed great maturity in his post-race interviews. He has been described as a true “champion.”

It was also a disappointing weekend for Colleen Felix (University of Georgia) and Kurt Felix (Boise State University) at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Idaho.

Colleen, a favourite in the women’s triple jump, managed only one successful jump while Kurt (DNF) in the men’s heptathlon after a no-height in the pole vault and a (DNS) in the 1,000 metres.

But despite the inclement weather at home, there were the National Athletics Championships at the stadium and the opening of the “Grenada Super League” organised by the Grenada Football Association in Grenville, St Andrew.

I was also happy to hear that Grenada’s longstanding sports administrator, Veda Bruno-Victor, was unanimously re-elected to the executive committee of the Pan American Sport Organisation (PASO) at their meeting in Mexico this week.

Founded on Aug. 8, 1948, Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), comes with the mission to strengthen the bonds of union and friendship between the peoples of the Americas, to encourage and promote sports development. PASO, recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), comprises 42 member countries.

It was announced in the 2012 Budget Presentation that the Grenadian government has decided that the secondary stands at the National Cricket Stadium will be named in honour of former West Indies cricketers Junior Murray and Rawl Lewis.

But except for an increased in the budgetary allocation for tourism marketing, nothing has been said about sports tourism.

How are we positioning ourselves to benefit from the foundation being laid by our sportsmen and women?

We are into the track and field season, and the names of Kirani James and Rondell Bartholomew will be highlighted among world-ranked athletes.

The Jason Roberts Foundation and the Shalrie Joseph Soccer Academy are two additional areas of sports tourism interests. What is the role of the Grenada Board of Tourism to capitalise on this mega-marketing initiative?

Jason Roberts should be given the role as a lead spokesman for the Olympics-bound Team Grenada, given his status in the UK media. He is a true sports ambassador!

While on the Olympics, it’s becoming clearer that Grenada’s medal hopes will lie in the individual events, particularly in the men’s 400m. It’s highly unlikely that a 4x400m relay team will qualify for London.

The uncertainty surrounding Bartholomew and possible knee surgery for Joel Phillip would certainly hamper chances of a relay team qualifying.

Bartholomew skipped the indoor season and there is no word as to when he will open his outdoor campaign. Phillip, who has a personal best of 45.29 seconds, has been in training but up until this month announced that he has to undergo knee surgery. This leaves James and Joel Redhead as the only two sureties.

The 2013 World Championships in Athletics in Moscow should be on target for the relay team.

Finally, the time has come for the authorities to start thinking about establishing a National Sports Hall of Fame. This will certainly put to rest the unnecessary chatter about recognition of our sports legends, who have blazed the trails and paved the way for many of our current sportsmen and women.

This Hall of Fame, part of an evolving national sports policy, should be seen as another way to honour the lifetime achievements of our greatest sportsmen, women and administrators.

A Hall of Fame Selection Panel could be created to administer the process by which these nominees will be inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

The likes of Donald Pierre, Maurice “Bull” Williams, Tyrone “Sampat” Harbin, Victor Joseph, Theophilus “Papitette” Redhead, James “Ox” Johnson, Oswald Clovey, Evelyn Gresham, Joseph “Joe” Gibbs, Walter St John, Alston “Heads” George, Raymond Anthony, Kenny Hobson, Veda Bruno-Victor, Janice Celestine, Harold “Flash” Williams, Bernard “Bunny” Wilson, among others are certain to have their names etched into the Hall of Fame.