3rd March
Seven Medals, A Good Possibility: Games Chef Off To Prepare Way
By Fred Sturrup
The Bahamian Chef de Mission for the national contingent, which will participate in the 2006 Commonwealth Games March 15-26 in Melbourne, Australia, is a no-nonsense, straight-talking sports icon.

Reference is to Livingstone Bostwick the long-time executive of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations who presently doubles as the assistant general secretary for The Bahamas Olympic Association. Bostwick also managed the Secretariat for the successful 20th Central American and Caribbean Senior Track and Field Championships staged here last July.

His primary focus over the last several months however has been working at processing accreditations for athletes and officials and interacting with The Commonwealth Games Committee in Melbourne on other relevant details. He leaves the island today for Melbourne to begin a three-week period during which he will be largely responsible for the entire Bahamian official delegation to the games.

Earlier this week with The Bahama Journal, he ventured to give a cursory review of the upcoming games.

"I expect that we will do well. The Bahamas will be there but we can’t forget that Jamaica is sending a 70-plus member team and of course the games will be in Australia, so the host nation can be expected to be strong. Then of course, there is Great Britain.

“For us, well, Tonique (Williams-Darling) will be there and has to be the favourite for the women’s 400 Metres. You know Laverne (Eve) is the defending javelin champion. I’m looking carefully at the 1600M Men’s relay, the other event we are expected to do very well in. I think we will be there in the medal hunt, but we can’t sleep on Jamaica. They will be tough in the Men’s relay as usual,” said Bostwick

He lamented The Bahamas’ inability at this time to field a Women’s 1600M Relay squad. What with Williams-Darling and Christine Amertil the Nos. 2 and 6 ranked runners in the world for the event, The Bahamas with just about anybody else, would have been a medal contender. Alas, Bostwick does not see The Bahamas lining up for that event.

His hopes are high also for Leevan Sands in the triple jump. His outlook is hopeful for the boxing and swimming teams and he would like for the cycling participants to record personal best times.

Quite realistic!

He readily acknowledged however that athletics will as usual be the glamour discipline at the games and while making no medal predictions, the gleam in his eyes suggested confidence that once again The Commonwealth of The Bahamas could come away with the “per capita” championship.

How will that happen?

Where can we look for the medals to come from?

Well, it’s safe to start with Williams-Darling. She has been the best in the world for two years now and none of her strong rivals will be in Melbourne. In fact unless somebody outstanding pops up from Australia, or Great Britain, teammate Christine Amertil figures to be her toughest competition.

The Bahamas could do a 1-2 in the women’s 400 Metres.

Eve, presently training in Cuba, with the best javelin hurler in the world, Osleidys Menendez, is very likely to end up on the medal podium and perhaps with another gold.

Sands who is consistently around 17-plus Metres, certainly has a Commonwealth medal in sight. If he can pop anything around his 17.31 Metres fourth place jump in Helsinki, he will end up on the podium.

Amertil could medal in the Women’s 200 Metres. She is ranked among the top 10 in the world. That ought to translate into a medal somewhere behind the Jamaican short sprints favourite, Veronica Campbell.

Chris Brown is due for a major breakout in the individual 400 Metres. The feeling here is that this will be the time.

Then, there is the big event, which is earmarked for lots of excitement, the Men’s 1600M relay.

It is easy to understand Bostwick’s apprehension. The Bahamas placed second to the United States in Helsinki last year at the World’s Championships and Jamaica was third.

Will the absence of Andre Williams make that much of a difference?

Who knows?

On paper, Jamaica looks to be the best. Brandon Simpson is ranked No. 2 in the world for the event, tied with Great Britain’s Tim Benjamin. Michael Blackford is ranked No. 8, Davian Clarke is ranked No. 13, Sanje Ayre is ranked No. 16, Ricardo Chambers is ranked No. 24 and Lansford Spence is ranked No. 25. That’s a solid bench from which the Jamaican teams for the heats and final can come from.

As for The Bahamas, Brown is ranked No. 5 in the world and Williams who will not be in Melbourne is ranked No. 35. Avard Moncur the 2001 world champion is unranked among the world’s top open quarter milers, as is the case with Nathaniel McKinney, Troy McIntosh, Dennis Darling and veteran Tim Munnings.

One thing is definite though. Our guys know how to run a relay. Also, on paper in Helsinki, Jamaica looked better then as well.

Great Britain normally brings a strong team, but the two Caribbean teams should be the strongest in Melbourne.

At a glance it figures the Bahamian track and field team could bag seven medals.

If one of the boxers or swimmers can come through, it could be quite a medal bonanza for this little country.

In the meantime, Bostwick heads out today to be in place to prepare for the arrival of his contingent.

On March 10th, contingent General Manager Roscow Davies along with team physician Dr. Willard Thompson, physiotherapist Jan McKenzie and the swimming team will travel to Melbourne. The track and field and cycling teams are due to travel on March 14.

Australia is a special place, a proven top organizer of major events. The 2006 Melbourne Games should be no different. Apart from the aforementioned athletes, Jamaica’s world’s fastest human Asafa Powell should be recovered enough from the groin injury that knocked him out of the Helsinki Championships. It is understood he will try for the sprint double and the 4 x 1 Relay gold. If he can move consistently anywhere near his world record of 9.77, he could very well end up with triple gold.

The veteran star from Mozambique, Maria Mutolo is expected in Melbourne. Does she have one more magical series in her? Well, her just being there will create much excitement.

The host country will be headed by middle distance ace Craig Mottram who is likely to have another epic battle with New Zealand’s Nick Willis. The Kiwi star recently clocked 3:52.75 to defeat Mottram two Saturdays ago.

On home turf however, Mottram who many consider to be the best middle distance runner in the world, should be incredibly tough.

Overall the 2006 Commonwealth Games are shaping up to be one of the all-time classics.

Let’s just hope that the athletes from The Bahamas figure prominently in the successful mix.