On Thursday 14 June the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Olympic Committee hosted a gala celebration and dinner at the Methodist Church Hall. In many respects the occasion as historic and marked a significant benchmark in the development of the organisation.
The celebrations saw Steve Stoute, President of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) and the Barbados NOC, Alphonso Bridgewater, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of the OECS (ANOCES) and the St Kitts and Nevis NOC, Larry Romany, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) – the Featured Speaker for the evening – and the Hon. Minister of Sport, Cecil McKie, in attendance.
For the very first time in the history of sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines the Olympic Anthem was an integral part of the proceedings, a feature that will characterise all of the NOC’s activities in the future.
Brief on the anniversaries
The following is an excerpt from the presentation by the Master of Ceremonies at the anniversary celebrations.
An idea takes root
The establishment of the NOC, 6 January 1982, by a small, dedicated individuals, lovers of sport, ushered in a new era in sport and sport development in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Indeed, it was the germination of an idea that has since taken roots.
Lennox Adams, an athlete desirous of having this country represented on the highest and most noble world sports stage – the Olympic Games – took the challenge and rallied a small group to set us on this path.
A dream realised
Gaining IOC Membership, 22 May 1987 was a dream realised for sporting St Vincent and the Grenadines.
This opened the door to participation in the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games.
Ladies and gentleman, in the modern International Olympic Movement, dating back to 23 June 1896 at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, our National Olympic Committee is very young.
To some of us however, it seems such a long time since Lennox took that momentous leap forward.
We have been to our first Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Since then we have been to Barcelona, Spain (1992), Atlanta, USA (1996), Sydney, Australia (2000), Athens, Greece, (2004) and Beijing, China (2008). This year, when we have so much to celebrate, we will take on the challenge of the London Olympics.
Our best achievement has come from Mr Eswort Coombs, who reached the semi finals of the 400m at the Atlanta Olympics.
Before having an NOC, Maurice King won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Chicago, Illinois, USA, competing for the West Indies Olympic Committee under the ambit of the ill-fated West Indies Federation.
Since having our own NOC we have been to The Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba (1991), Mar del Plata, Argentina (1995), Winnipeg, Canada (1999), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2003), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2007) and Guadalajara, Mexico (2011).
Our lone success since then has been the bronze medal performance of Eswort Coombs in the 400m at the Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1995.
We have participated in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico City, Mexico (1990), Ponce, Puerto Rico (1993), Maracaibo, Venezuela (1998), San Salvador, El Salvador (2002), Cartagena, Colombia (2006) and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico (2010).
Our first success came with the bronze medal performance of Kineke Alexander at the CAC Games in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2006.
This country participated in its first Commonwealth Games, then called, Empire Games, in Cardiff, Wales, in 1958, with Elton Anderson and Godfrey Roberts as our athletes.
Weightlifter, George Manners, won our first medal – bronze at the Commonwealth Games of 1970 held in Edinburgh, Scotland. Prior to this he had won silver competing for England at the Commonwealth Games held in Kingston, Jamaica in 1966.
We won gold in Boxing through Frankie Lucas in 1990 at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand.
Since becoming the official member-representative of the Commonwealth Games Federation, we have participated in the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Colombia, Canada (1994), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1998), Manchester, England (2002), Melbourne, Australia (2006) and Delhi, India (2010), with our one gold medal being won by Natasha Mayers in the 100m at the Games in Delhi, India in 2010.
One more important anecdote is the winning of gold in the 400m by Eswort Coombs at our first participation in the World University Student Games in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1995, following on from his medal achievement in Argentina earlier that year.
On 11 November 1992, our NOC established the National Olympic Academy, its educational arm. In so doing we became the first NOC in the English-speaking Caribbean to have created such an organisation.
The establishment of the National Olympic Academy has enhanced our capacity to meet one of the mandates of the International Olympic Movement, the spreading of Olympism – the lofty values inherent in the practice of sport.
Today, we can boast of accessing every available programme under the Olympic Solidarity segment on Olympic Values, bringing courses, programmes and projects to Vincentians everywhere in this country.
Still, for our NOC, the journey has just begun. The road is long and full of challenges.
Even as we celebrate this evening, our successes we take note of our weaknesses and re-commit, re-dedicate ourselves to the awesome responsibility that befalls us as members of the International Olympic Movement.
We thank all those who have helped us along the way.
Words are inadequate in expressing just how much we owe you all, a huge debt of gratitude for your vision, commitment and support.
Olympic Hall of Fame
The NOC also seized the opportunity of its multiple celebrations to establish the first Olympic Hall of Fame in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The first and lone inductee into the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Hall of Fame was Lennox Adams, the founder and first president of the National Olympic Committee.
The contributions of Lennox Adams to the development of sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines have already been chronicled in previous Columns. His vision and commitment led him to push for the establishment of the NOC on 6 January 1982. Unfortunately, when the organisation finally gained IOC recognition on 22 May 1987, Adams was at university in the USA.
Adams’ sporting brief reads:
- Represented the St. Vincent Grammar School in track and field athletics and cricket
- Became the captain of Millar House in the academic year, 1977-78
- Won the coveted Senior Boys Champion title at the Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships in 1978.
Later, this individual…
- Represented Ouachita Baptist University (Arkansas, USA) in Triple Jump
- Arkansas Inter Collegiate Athletics (AIA) Champion, Triple Jump, Indoor and Outdoor 1987-89
- Ouachita Baptist University Athlete of the Year 1989
- US National Champion (NAIA Division) in the Triple Jump, Indoor 1987, 1988, 1989; Outdoor 1988 as well as Silver Medal 1989
Represented SVG at numerous regional meets in the 400m, Triple Jump, Long Jump as well in the sprint and distance relays.
He was a member of the Vincentian team to the 1986 Commonwealth Games Team (but did not participate because SVG joined the boycott when several members of the Commonwealth Family stood against Apartheid)
He was a member of this country’s team to our first Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea 1988, in the Triple Jump
He was the holder of this country’s national Triple Jump record for several years
- Participant Bill Sykes Coaching Clinic
- Graduate Olympic Solidarity Coaching Course (Mid Level) Track and Field, C.D.O.M Mexico
- Physical Education Teacher and Coach, Bishop’s College Kingstown 78-86
- Coach, Athletics team, Windward Islands School Games in the 1980s
- Coach National Junior and Senior Teams 1981-86, including teams to Carifta Games Teams, Whitsuntide Games, CAC Championships.
- Coach of SVG team to 1st World Championships in Athletics, Helsinki, Finland-1983.