Sandra Osborne wrote her name on history’s page late last night when she was elected the first female president of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA).
The highly anticipated three-hour long general meeting held behind closed doors at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, brought an end to the bitter elections, where last week the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) suspended the right to vote for members of the board of directors. This development didn’t sit well with some of the candidates.
The decision was made by the AAB in an effort to prevent any one candidate from having an advantage. Only the affiliate federations were allowed to vote The only thing guaranteed about the ballot was that when all was said and done the BOA would be headed by a new president, as outgoing president Steve Stoute who had been at the helm of the association since 1996, had declared since September 8 that after five terms he had had enough.
Prominent sporting personalities filed through the Flamboyant Room of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre for the scheduled 5 p.m. start of the meeting, but it was only around 7:45 p.m. that news emerged of Osborne’s landslide victory over BOA director Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne and Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and former tourism minister Noel Lynch.
Osborne who was dubbed the dark horse by many before the election obtained 24 votes, Browne secured ten votes while Lynch could only muster two votes.
In other results Ralph Johnson was re-elected as vice-president amassing 14 votes, Erskine Simmons also regained the general secretary position with 23 votes, while 25 votes were enough to see Orson Simpson elected as treasurer and Cameron Burke remained the assistant secretary-general.
The five elected directors are Ytannia Wiggins, Dr Adrian Lorde, Esther Maynard, Craig Archer and Mona Alleyne.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY shortly after the results were announced, Osborne said she was happy with the outcome but admitted to having big boots to fill.
“I am overwhelmed by the victory, I couldn’t call this one but I feel very privileged to succeed a person like Steve Stoute because he has done a tremendous amount of work for the Olympic movement. I will rely on him as I find my feet and I move forward. I didn’t know that I would be successful, I didn’t come into this election knowing that I would win, I think it was anybody’s race, I am very grateful for the confidence that has been placed in me.”
Osborne, who also serves as the vice- president of the Barbados Tennis Association (BTA) and is the honorary legal advisor to the Commonwealth Games Federation, reiterated her main plan as she assumes the position of president-elect.
“I think the first thing that we have to do is revisit our existing strategic plan. Whatever new plan we build must be consistent. We need to reach out to our national federations and have that conversation to move forward in a strategic way.”
Commenting on the drama leading up to last night’s showdown, she said she refrained from controversy while remaining focused on the job at hand.
“I am not a politician, so it was very easy for me to stay out of the fray. I stayed focused on what my vision was for the organization and what my message was. There were things swirling around that I heard which I had views on but I decided to stay out the fray because at the end of the day I have to work with everyone.
“At the end of the day I always look at what happened after the event and I don’t know it was in anybody’s interest to burn bridges or relationship over an election,” she said.
Osborne added that her victory was a massive leap for women in sports in Barbados while stating that she hopes to have a balance between males and females in local sporting.
“I think it is a step forward, what I would say though is I don’t want to be described as the first female president but a president who happens to be a female. What of the message I would have given in my campaign is the need for a better gender balance in sports across the spectrum. We need women who are competent and qualified, so I am hoping that this will be an inspiration to women. But I would like to see a better gender balance,” she said.