Excitement, Commonwealth pride showcased at Games

By: Kevanté Alexia

Screams echoed from the stands of the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas as countries cheered on their young athletes at the closing of what was a tremendous week of events for the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) 2017.

Sixty-four nations from around the globe united in Commonwealth pride to compete in sporting events that some were fortunate enough to take home medals of bronze, silver and gold.

The final three days were execptionally exciting for Caribbean nations as they took many of the accolades in the beach volleyball and soccer, swimming and athletics disciplines.

On Friday, Team Bahamas played themselves in the men’s beach volleyball tournament, where Bahamas Team 1 won the match.  Simultaneously, St. Lucia’s women’s volleyball team played Jamaica’s, where Jamaica won the match but not without a good fight since St. Lucia’s team put up a great defense.

At 10 am Team Bahamas’ women’s volleyball team played Trinidad and Tobago and Team Bahamas came out triumphant. On the other court, simultaneously, Trinidad and Tobago’s men’s team defeated Jamaica in their match.

But it was Team Rwanda that won the bronze medal overall against Scotland in Saturday evening’s match up, while Team New Zealand won the silver and Australia took home the gold. The men’s Australian team defeated the Ghanaian team for the bronze medal in the beach volleyball tournament while Cyprus took the silver and England took the gold.

It was a great time for the young athletes of Australia who expressed their pride in their accomplishments and excitement in the overall experience.

Mark Nicolaidis and James Takken, both 17, said that they were both proud to have beaten the Ghanaian team and take the bronze medal back home to Australia.

“It was great competing against other nationalities and observing all of the techniques other countries used,” Nicolaidis said.

“I feel great about our win and being able to bring it back to Australia. I feel like we made our country very proud,” Takken said.

Both Takken and Nicolaidis, who have never experienced island life in The Bahamas before, said they enjoyed every minute of their stay since their arrival.

“It’s been beautiful. The weather has been amazing enough for us to play in such great conditions. The people are friendly; we’ve gone a short tour. But the island is beautiful,” Nicolaidis said with a promise to be back in the very near future.

On Friday evening, Jamaica’s women’s soccer team defeated Turks and Caicos with a nine-point deficit that leads them to the semifinals on Saturday evening in which they played Trinidad and Tobago. St. Lucia’s men’s team played Antigua and Barbuda and defeated them 5 – 2.

At 6.45 pm, Team Bahamas took on Trinidad and Tobago in a heated match of the night that landed both teams to the penalties round. Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s team stole the win. The 8 pm men’s match was a repeat of the same, where Trinidad and Tobago defeated The Bahamas 2 – 4.

And on Saturday evening at the Malcolm Park soccer stadium, Turks and Caicos took home the bronze for the women’s team, Jamaica, the silver and Trinidad and Tobago the gold. Team Bahamas’ men’s team brought home the bronze medal, Trinidad and Tobago, the silver and St. Lucia the gold.

The Bahamas’ team coach Dwayne Forbes, 28, said that despite preparing the team for the CYG at such a last minute, he is proud that they won the bronze for the country.

“To prepare the boys, we basically started off four-five weeks ago – two sessions a day. For ideal competition, more time commitment was needed to prepare for the tournaments but it is what it is. The boys improved a lot but unfortunately we weren’t able to bring the gold home because of silly mistakes we made. So we actually beat ourselves in this tournament but the bronze is just as good enough.”

Forbes said the coaching experience for him was interesting because the team were a disciplined bunch that took heed to his instructions.

As for team players Chadwick Russell and Michael Butler, both 18, they are just proud to represent their country at such a grand event.

“It’s a very good experience; it’s always great to represent my country and great exposure to see the other beach soccer teams and how we stand against other teams around the world,” Russell said.

“It’s a great experience. I play for other national teams but this is my first time for soccer. It was great meeting other people – talking with them at the hotel and it’s something that I’d really want to do again,” Butler said.

Russell said they came into the tournament expecting to win the gold but he’s just happy to have brought a medal home. Though neither he nor Butler will play for the team at the next CYG he said there are a few techniques he’d like to work on in preparation to join the Men’s National Soccer Team.

“Moving forward, I think that something I’d really like to improve on is my first touch and my bicycle kick. I think those are important for me to work on in order to join the Men’s National Soccer Team.

Butler who also plays for the national baseball and football teams said for next time he could work on his vision, velocity and being a better team member.

The finale of the series of events kicked off on Sunday from 8 am with the cycling race, tennis tournament in the afternoon and the anticipated relay races and field events that transpired in the evening.

At a distance of 74.19 meters, Australia’s Neil Janse Van Rensburg won the gold medal for the javelin field event. But Australia’s victory carried out into the Girl’s 200 meters dash, the 4×100 meters mixed relay race and the 4×400 meters mixed relay race.

But what had the crowd on their feet was the triumph of The Bahamas’ mixed relay team for the 4×200 meters race. The Bahamas closed the gap Botswana and England gliding through to steal the gold medal from Team England. The pride of Bahamians dripped through the seats of the stadium as the announcer made the call that it was “TEAM BAHAMAS!” who won.

And what better way to close out the CYG in The Bahamas than to keep it authentically Bahamian and have a Junkanoo rush out put on by Da Valley Boyz? Some moved and grooved to the sound, others stood and recorded from their smartphones. No matter the reaction, no man could relive the experience. One can only hope that it’s bigger and better next year.

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