Boxing endured mixed fortunes during the year. While professional boxing remained in the doldrums with a pensionable Sean Terry Cox at 40 still being the face of the professional ranks, the amateur version provided the blood transfusion for the sport. With Kathy Harper-Hall and others with the sport at heart at the forefront, a number of amateur cards were staged at venues such as the Netball Stadium, Barbados Community College and Springer Memorial School – an indication that the sport needs a home.
The likes of brothers Jabali and Cobia Breedy, as well as Kimberley Gittens Mary Fraser provided hope for the future and though Cobia was lost to the professional ranks at the end of the year, there was still cause for optimism at the amateur level.
Professional boxing can often be a seedy affair with boxers fighting and not being paid or doing battle against opponents who under normal circumstances should not be allowed near a boxing ring. As the year came to a close, lovers of the professional sport could not feel any satisfaction at where boxing was located.
In volleyball, Deacons’ attempt to do the double by winning the knockout title came to a screeching halt in November when they were beaten by Progressive in four sets. For Progressive it was their second knockout title in five years and came against a Deacons team with resources such as Andriy Stapleton, Daran Gill, Sheldon Roach, Klode Thompson and Jamaal Nedd.
Deacons also finished on the losing end in women’s knockout volleyball, going out at the semi-final stage to eventual champions Rockets. In the final Rockets disposed of Warrens in emphatic fashion. With a team comprising the likes of Shari Matthews and Anicia Wood, Rockets would have virtually had to play the game at a different location to that of their opponents to lose.
Arguably one of the better managed sports during the year was football. The Barbados Football Association not only managed its domestic competitions with some aplomb, but embarked on a number of training initiatives for administrative and ancillary staff. Coaches and referees were among those who benefited from extensive training facilitated by the BFA in conjunction with CONCACAF.
On the field of play the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme won the BFA’s Premier League title with Mario Harte at the forefront of their efforts, while Weymouth Wales brought back memories of their glory days by capturing the knockout title.
There was still much work to be done by the BFA, however, with the completion of their Wildey, St. Michael headquarters a priority. The association’s financing and apparent lack of transparency came into question during the year.
Reports of administrative infelicities in the BFA surfaced in January. Thousands of dollars and equipment earmarked for football development in Barbados were reportedly diverted to personal benefit, contrary to the dictates of football’s world governing body, FIFA. It was later revealed that FIFA’s deputy secretary general Markus Kattner had mandated accounting firm KPMG to conduct a forensic probe into the BFA’s financial affairs.
One BFA official revealed that after the 2010 FIFA World Cup the BFA got a bonus of about BDS$1 million. He explained that the BFA also received US$250 000 annually from FIFA but yet found itself in the red to about $400 000 and indebted to a number of local entities. However, investigations suggested that most of these problems, if not all, had occurred under a different dispensation and BFA president Randy Harris was very forthright in dealing with the situation and promising that his administration would be marked by transparency and accountability.
On the basketball court, Pinelands brought immense pleasure to their supporters by doing the double; defeating Lakers in the league tournament and Warriors in the knockout. On the regional front, however, Barbados performed poorly with neither the women’s nor men’s teams distinguishing themselves at the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
In April, Pine Hill St. Barnabas proved what most have come to accept in local netball – that they are a formidable force.
In one night the club walked away from the Netball Stadium with three titles. Driven by the shooting prowess of Laurel Browne, they retained their senior knockout title with a chastening defeat of Spooners Hill. They also won the junior knockout title by beating Bico Delight and added to their trophy collection with victory over UWI Eagles in the Intermediate 2 knockout final.
Barbados’ young swimmers continued to show progress in the pool and in open water events. At the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Aruba in April, Hannah Gill took gold in the 200m freestyle while Christopher Selbyalso had a golden swim in the men’s equivalent. There were also other outstanding efforts from the likes of Zabrina Holder, Danielle Titus, Luis Sebastian Weekes, Amara Gibbs, Kimberley Willoughby and Alexis Clarke, among several others.
In June, Clarke would stave off strong opposition from Syria David of Trinidad to win the 5km in the 14-17 age group at the 2014 Caribbean Island Swimming Championships. That effort earned Barbados its first swim medal at the championships.
Still in the water, but on surf boards, Chelsea Tuach and Chelsea Roettcontinued to perform exceptionally well on international surfs. Tuach finished ahead of Roett at the Association of Surfing Professionals Soup Bowl Pro Junior at Bathsheba. That win put the 2013 sports personality of the year in equal third place with Australia’s Bronte Macaulay and behind Mahina Maeda Tessa Thyssen on the final World Junior Tour Rankings for 2014. Roett turned the tables on Tuach when she delivered a stellar performance to win the women’s open competition at the Barbados Independence Pro Surf Festival.
Barbados had more to celebrate as the year drew to a close as Meagan Best performed outstandingly at theUS Junior Squash Open held at Yale University. The national Under-13 champion won bronze in her age category and from all reports looked an exceptional talent in the making.
Despite the cries from many associations of economic hardships, a number of them inclusive of the badminton and cycling bodies, managed to send athletes to overseas meets and in some instances, for specialized training. There were rumblings of discontent among cyclists, however, with several calling and signing petitions for the removal of president of the Barbados Cycling Union, Keith Yearwood. He was firmly entrenched, however, as the year came to a close. Yearwood’s next major challenge, other than internal, would be next year’s staging of the Caribbean Cycling Championships.
Organisers and associations responsible for polo, golf, game fishing and yachting all staged successful events during the year.
Barbados player Donald Leacock emerged winner of the third annual Crane Resort Golf Classic when the event was played over 18 holes at the Barbados Golf Club, at Durants, in February.
And in September national player Julian Jordan upstaged 12-time champion James Johnsonto win the men’s title at the 2014 Massy United Insurance Barbados Open at the Royal Westmoreland Club.
Holding a narrow two-stroke lead after the first 18 holes, Jordan withstood the challenge of defending champion Carlsen Leacock to win the Open title for the second time. Sally Schofield took the women’s title.
And on the local front, last but certainly not least, the newly renovated Bushy Park circuit played host to two huge international meets.
Car-racing enthusiasts were left salivating after witnessing the Top Gear Festival and the Race of Champions.
After spending millions of dollars to renovate the track, Bushy Park welcomed Top Gear in May. The event attracted some of the biggest names in rallycross such as Ken Block and Tanner Foust
However, the highlight of the Festival, no doubt, was the appearance of Mercedes formula 1 driver, Lewis Hamilton, who roared around the track in his AMG Petronas, much to the delight of the huge crowd on hand.
Seven months later, the Race of Champions brought the likes of nine-time Le Mans 24 hours winner, Tom Kristensen, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, five-time Moto GP champion, Mick Doohan, and 13-time F1 Grand Prix winner, David Coulthard.
Team Nordic’s Kristensen and Petter Solberg drove their way to the ROC Nations Cup title, while Coulthard was crowned the Champion of Champions.
Roger Skeete, driving a Subaru Impreza WRC S12, returned to the top podium of Sol Rally Barbados on the weekend of May 30 and June 1 for the first time since 2011, claiming his 13th victory in the 25-year history of the island’s premier event. It was a victory well deserved and acclaimed by his legion of adoring fans.
At the start of the year the world said farewell to Portuguese football icon Eusebio. The Mozambique-born genius was considered by many experts to be the greatest ever footballer after the incomparable Brazilian, Pele
Joining the passing parade in April was America’s Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a middleweight boxer of some note, whose career was unjustly derailed by the law and a conviction for a triple murder for which he spent almost 20 years behind bars before being exonerated in 1985. His struggle for freedom inspired the movie.The Hurricane and several songs. On the home front Barbados bid farewell to one of sports’ faithful administrators, Ashley Toppin.
And while their journey might have ended, the late-year announcement that Barbados’ Jason Holderwould take over the leadership of the West Indies’ One-Day International team marked an occasion for unashamed national celebration and an opportunity for rebirth and the taking of
a fresh guard.
2015 is filled with great expectations.