The Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) recently held its annual awards ceremony under the theme ‘Sport is Life’, honouring over 30 sportsmen and women from various disciplines. The event was a night of celebration, which saw Sada Williams, the world 400-metre bronze medallist, win the Senior Female Athlete of the Year Award for the third year in a row. Matthew Wright, the island’s top triathlete and Central American and Caribbean (CAC) bronze medallist, was named the 2023 Senior Male Athlete of the Year, and Shane Brathwaite, who won a Central American and Caribbean gold medal, received the coveted President’s Award for his consistent contribution to sport over the last 20 years.
Four other top awardees were named during the ceremony at Sandals Barbados, which was sponsored by IGT. Among them was Cadijah Mars, FIFA’s new member association development manager, who won the International Excellence Award. Teon Haynes, a long jumper and Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist was named the 2023 Junior Male Athlete of the Year. Heidi Stoute, who won nine medals at the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, was named Junior Female Athlete of the Year. Additionally, Ashlyn Simmons, who won Barbados’ first gold medal at this year’s CARIFTA games, captured the People’s Choice Award.
In her welcome remarks, the President of the BOA, Sandra Osborne S.C., praised the athletes for their accomplishments in 2023. She noted that Barbados secured 13 medals in 10 different sports across three games, indicating that the country is “developing elite athletes not just in the sports in which we have traditionally excelled”. President Osborne also stated that female athletes performed exceptionally well, earning a total of eight out of thirteen medals. Two of these medals were won by teams, namely the CAC Games Women’s Hockey team, which comprised 16 women, and the Pan American Games Women’s Squash team, which comprised three women.
Furthermore, President Osborne emphasised the need once again to raise awareness of the Barbados sports community’s crucial role in harnessing the transformative potential of sport. Her call was made as she disclosed that the Board of the BOA has recently approved the adoption of the United Nations Sport for Climate Action Framework and Sport for Nature Framework, demonstrating the BOA’s leadership in the crucial area of sustainability.
“We intend to develop a sustainability strategy, but even before we get there, we have committed to taking small steps, as is evidenced by our decision to move away from plastic trophies for our Awards to more a sustainable material, namely wood. Wood is one of the most environmentally favourable materials due to its absorption of carbon dioxide while growing, its adaptability to produce products such as tonight’s awards, and its recyclability and use as a biofuel,” she said.
Minister of Youth, Sport, and Community Empowerment, the Honourable Charles Griffith, in his remarks, reflected on the theme of the evening, ‘Sport is Life’, acknowledging the significant role that sports play worldwide, acting as a means of escaping poverty for many individuals. Minister Griffith stated that his ministry is committed to advancing sport in Barbados and, in addition to developing a five to 10-year national strategic plan for sports development, has been providing subventions for all the national federations. Moreover, he said each federation can also apply for developmental financing of $20,000, disclosing that 26 of the 50 federations have applied to date.
During her remarks, the Country Manager of IGT, Shelly Ann Hee Chung, said that the lottery was honoured to again partner with the BOA to recognise and celebrate Barbados’ esteemed athletes and administrators. She also commended the BOA for being the “architect of dreams” and providing opportunities for Barbados’ youth to aspire to greatness, encouraging them to dream big, work hard, and become well-rounded athletes and citizens.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Professor Konstantinos Georgiadis, Honourary Dean of the International Olympic Academy. In his address, he emphasised the crucial role of physical education teachers and coaches in shaping the ethical values of their students and athletes. He also urged National Olympic
Academies and National Olympic Committees to use sports as a means of promoting social inclusion and well-being, suggesting the establishment of programmes that focus on values, health, and quality of life for people of all age groups to increase participation in sports.
Several other awards were presented at the ceremony. These included Junior Male and Female Athlete Recognition Awards, two in each category, which went to Fynn Armstrong (Triathlon) and Tommaso Layson (Surfing), and Ashlyn Simmons (Athletics) and Sumariaa Suleman (Squash). There were also Senior Male and Female Athlete Recognition Awards presented. These went to Shai Hope (Cricket) and Shane Brathwaite (Athletics) in the male category, and Meagan Best (Squash) and Hayley Matthews (Cricket) in the female category. Additionally, two International Excellence Recognition Awards were presented to Henderson Turton (Taekwondo) and Kyrone Alexander (Basketball) and three of the island’s coaches, Ramon Armstrong, Julia Broome and Andre Moore received Academic Excellence Awards for success in their studies in the past year.
Meanwhile, Wendy Blackman received the Dedicated Service Award for her extraordinary dedication and service to the BOA and the Olympic movement, and two employees were recognised for long service – Ivy Miller for five years and Gail Craig-Archer for 25 years. The BOA also showed appreciation to the medallists from the Central American and Caribbean Games, Commonwealth Youth Games, and Pan American Games by presenting them with performance bonuses.