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Official Complaint filed by Bahamas, citing TCI Nat’l Swim Coach is ‘out of order’

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By Deandrea Hamilton

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#TurksandCaicos, April 21, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Sports Commission, the overarching sporting body for the islands has said it is “verifying” what led to the fall out involving CARIFTA qualifying swimmer, Lenin Hamilton Jr, the Turks and Caicos Swimming Federation and the Swim Federation of The Bahamas.

Needless to say, Lenin Hamilton Jr or LJ was devastated by the development, which barred him from competitive participation in the CARIFTA Aquatics Championships.  He had been training years for his debut at CARIFTA; it was twice delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and this time a complaint filed by the TCI Swimming Federation postponed his opportunity by another year; he learned of the ruling on his 13th birthday.

“There has been much speculation surrounding this incident, some of which the TCI Sports Commission is in the process of verifying. We are awaiting a comprehensive report from the Turks and Caicos Islands Swimming Federation on the matter,” informed a statement issued on Wednesday.

A deeply concerning debacle developed over the Easter Holiday weekend during the 35th CARIFTA Aquatics Championships, which were staged in Bridgetown, Barbados.

“The series of events that led to Lenin Jr.’s inability to swim in the CARIFTA Swimming Championships 2022 is unfortunate. While National Team selection and coordination is the remit of the National Federations and not the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG), the TCIG champions a fair playing field for all participants in sports and values strong positive working relationships with neighbouring countries, such as the Bahamas.”

Lenin Hamilton Jr, who is a member of the TCI Aquatics Swim Club, is both a Bahamian and Turks and Caicos Islands citizen.

The fiasco seems to stem from a badly worded offer letter to the athletes.  Our newsroom obtained a copy which reveals a discriminatory condition.

“I did not accept the offer, because I did not like the wording in the letter for CARIFTA.  It wasn’t worded like the letter for CCCAN was worded.  This one felt like it had more restrictions,” explained Lenin Hamilton Sr, coach of TCI Aquatics Swim Club.

Hamilton said he felt it was not necessary or best for his swimmer to practice with Coach Hall and considered the stipulation as just another way to block TCI Aquatics from national representation.

An excerpt from the TCI Swimming Federation’s offer letter, which was issued on March 3, 2022 advised:  “As you probably well know, the CARIFTA swimming championships is a high-level international swim meet that will require certain expectations. These include dedication to training in the upcoming weeks, including some practice sessions with the National Team headed by National Coach Mr. Ezekiel Hall. Swimmers and parents will also be required to abide by a code of conduct during the training prior to CARIFTA and at CARIFTA, both on and off the pool deck. Failure to show up on time for the practices or not be fully dedicated to training or any breach of the code of conduct could be grounds for removal from the National Team.”

Lenin Jr, at the time was training in The Bahamas, and according to his father and coach would not be able to make the practices; additionally, the stipulation when reviewed by many in the TCI sporting community was described as “disenfranchising” to an athlete.

“I just put my son in a better position to train for this event,” said the Coach about Lenin Jr’s move to The Bahamas ahead of the swim championships.

Turks and Caicos Islands has no Olympic qualifying facility; its swimmers usually earn qualifying times in meets abroad, particularly in The Bahamas.

The clause in the offer letter was also viewed by the discerning as yet another attempt by the TCI National Swim Coach, Ezekiel Hall to exclude TCI Aquatics from participation. Hall, who heads Provo Aquatics Swim Club has been repeatedly accused of biased and questionable execution of his duties as both the head coach and member of the executive board of the TCI Swim Fed.

Bahamian media in reporting on remarks by its Bahamas Aquatics president – Algernon Cargill – said the decision to disqualify the boy was as a result of a complaint filed by the Turks and Caicos Swimming Federation.  The decision, once it was publicized, unleashed a firestorm of criticisms and comments expressing shock at the move.

It has also created “bad blood” between the countries which have also been published in Bahamian media.

“We in the Bahamas Aquatics Federation are extremely disappointed with the camaraderie displayed by the Turks and Caicos.  We have been extremely generous and benevolent in not only assisting Turks and Caicos to develop their federation but inviting them for years to compete in The Bahamas,” Cargill in a Tribune newspaper article added, “We feel the situation could have been resolved between the countries because the IOC has rules that allows for countries to resolve disputes like this.”

The main reason Hamilton Jr was not cleared to swim and represent Team Bahamas in the 2022 CARIFTA Swim meet was because ten months earlier, in June 2021 he represented Turks and Caicos at the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Confederation, CCCAN meet, which was held in Puerto Rico.

“The information provided to us explained that Lenin Hamilton Jr., who represented the TCI at CCCAN less than twelve months ago, had made an application to represent The Bahamas at the CARIFTA Swimming Championship hosted this past weekend in Barbados.

Communication was had between the Turks and Caicos Islands Swimming Federation and the Bahamas Aquatics Federation on the matter. With no resolve between each country’s federations, the Barbados Aquatics Sports Association was notified, which subsequently made a ruling that the FINA rule GR 2.5 and 2.6 was violated and withdrew Lenin Hamilton Jr. from the competition,” said the Sports Commission statement.

There was a similar statement to Magnetic Media by the Swimming Federation’s president Dan Redmond, “We were unaware that LJ was planning to represent the Bahamas at CARIFTA until we saw the CARIFTA list of swimmers entered with times (called ‘psyche sheets’).

The rules about ‘sporting nationality’ are very clear and are included in the event summons (see attached document CARIFTA Summons 2022).

Lenin ‘LJ’ Hamilton, represented the Turks and Caicos Islands at CCCAN in June 2021. This makes him ineligible to represent another nation for a period of twelve months, (reference FINA GR 2.5 & 2.6).

This is a problem for the CARIFTA organisers and they’ve simply applied the rules that everyone has signed up to,” shared Redmond.

However, some of what is stated here is not what Dan Redmond reported to Magnetic Media on March 21st, when we contacted him about the absence of LJ Hamilton from the team roster.

Our news organization was told, Coach Hamilton declined the offer due to the requirement to have LJ attend practices in the TCI and would be swimming instead with The Bahamas, where he was training.

Redmond went on to inform that this decision by his coach did not mean LJ would not be able to compete for TCI again.  The comment was in response to our question about why the promising young swimmer was not more assertively pursued; why Turks and Caicos was contented to lose such a valuable athlete?

And contented they were.  No objections came about Lenin Jr not appearing at the CARIFTA Aquatics Championships for The Bahamas and no objections came to yet another slight, when his father – a distinguished coach – was not added to the coaching staff for the team.

The demonstration of care and concern which would be expected for a Youth program and National Coaching team was heartbreakingly absent.

The Bahamas swim president said it was not the first time Coach Ezekiel Hall has shown bad form and double standards.

“Turks and Caicos did the exact same thing in 2018 at CARIFTA.  What I have done is file an official complaint with the Turks and Caicos Olympic Association that has clearly outlined that their coach is out of order.  In 2018, his own daughter who swam in The Bahamas’ FINA (international swimming Federation) sanctioned meet as a Bahamian athlete, when two weeks later and swam for Turks and Caicos at the CARIFTA games and subsequently went on to the worlds,” explained Cargill in that newspaper article.

Support for Lenin Hamilton Jr, has been massive and reportedly included  Mario Bowleg, Minister of Sports for The Bahamas and Prime Minister, Philip Davis who Algernon Cargill said reached out to the national coach.

LJ swam the 50m backstroke in 33.22; the 50m butterfly in 30.42 and the 100m free in 1:00:27; top times, according to The Bahamas who also said the country is looking forward to LJs ability to swim for The Bahamas in future.

Caribbean News

Jamaica Rum Festival Endorsed

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, endorsed this year’s fourth staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, St. James, on Saturday (June 25).

Ms. Grange, who officially opened the event, noted that rum, and spirits in general, has deep cultural significance in Jamaica, spanning centuries.

“From the cane fields, where our enslaved ancestors worked, through to today, where we have the best rum in the world… we have a lot to be proud of,” she added.

For his part, Tourism Director, Donovan White, commended the organisers of the festival, which attracted a significant number of patrons, including visitors from overseas.  He said the Ministry of Tourism, through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), was pleased to be a partner in the event that showcased top quality products by local rum purveyors.

Minister Grange, representatives from the Tourism Ministry’s agencies, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, were presented with limited edition Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum.

 

Contact; Okoye Henry

Release: JIS

 

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Bahamas News

49th Independence Anniversary Celebrations Kick Off with National Pride Day

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#TheBahamas, June 27, 2022 – Under the theme: “Proud to Be Bahamian”, the National Independence Secretariat is set to kick off the 49th Independence Celebrations on Friday, July 1, 2022.

In its efforts to promote pride and unity throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Secretariat is encouraging a National Flag Raising Ceremony be held at all Government, and private corporate offices.

This ceremony should be staged at 9am on the Friday, simultaneously.

Bahamians are urged to wear the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and assemble together as the National Flag is being hoisted and to sing the National Anthem, followed by a prayer.

The Secretariat is also encouraging participants to capture the event in photos and or videos, for posting on social media platforms, and inclusion in the national jubilee booklet and documentary next year.

Send images to: info@celebrate-bahamas.com

 

Photo Caption: Sienna Evans beautiful costume was created by Patrice Lockhart. Special thanks to Commonwealth Fabrics for their generous donation of the Androsia fabric used in the gown.

 

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Caribbean News

Education Ministry Recommits to Expanding Uniformed Groups in Schools

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – The Ministry of Education and Youth remains committed to increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools.  This is in keeping with its thrust to fulfill this mission under the Safety and Security in Schools Programme, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, has said.  She further noted that “it is a part of our series of measures to improve discipline among students.”

Mrs. Williams was speaking during the Council of Voluntary Social Services’ (CVSS) uniformed groups church service on Sunday (June 26).  The service was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.

Mrs. Williams remarks came against the background of what she said were “heightened concerns” in recent months over incidents of violence in schools across Jamaica and calls for a more concerted effort to provide civic and character education for students.  She noted that several initiatives within the Ministry to address these concerns were being expanded, among them support for uniformed groups in schools.

“The Ministry has been supporting uniformed youth groups in the development of a Three-Year Strategic Plan and [Memoranda of Understanding] with individual groups which will, at one and the same time, advance the missions of the groups and the mandate of the Ministry to these groups,” Mrs. Williams added.

The Minister pointed out that these cohorts, including Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys Brigade, Cub Scouts, Cadets and Pathfinders, “have played an invaluable role in shaping the character and awakening the social conscience of our young people for decades.”

“It has been well-established that students who participate in clubs are more out-going as they are engaged in activities that support socialisation with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in group settings where communication and team-work are necessary. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside of the school setting,” she stated.

Mrs. Williams said the activities engaged in at meetings also complement classroom learning and emphasise social, emotional, and physical development.

Additionally, she said they provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.

“Uniformed youth groups represent a cohort of the nation’s youth that is organised around a set of core values, such as honour, discipline, service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, perseverance, industry and spiritual fortitude,” the Minister emphasised.

She noted that while most are based in schools, units may also be organised at church and community levels.

“Indeed, we know that the church has been a main source through which many new members are recruited. There is a challenge, however, and that is, over the past few years, there has not been as robust an interest in these groups as in previous decades,” Mrs. Williams indicated.

She said it was acknowledged that the society’s youth now have many more interests and distractions, “but we should still try to encourage them to see the value in participating in groups such as these”, while citing an “urgent need” for volunteer adult leaders.

The Minister also noted that older and more traditional groups, such as Boys Scouts and Girl Guides, are international in scope and maintain linkages with the worldwide movements.

“Support from these fraternal organisations has, however, diminished over the years, and local organisations must find the resources to sustain operations and pay the required affiliation fees. So once again, it is important that we, in the local community, pitch in to provide the needed support,” she added.

In this regard, the Minister commended members of the uniformed groups and CVSS for ongoing efforts to forge long-term alliances that facilitate mutual support and joint action.

Further, she said, for representing the concerns of the social sector, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, at the regional and international levels.

“We, as a collective, continue to dedicate ourselves to creating a supportive and safe environment for our students to learn and experience as much as possible to become productive members of society,” Mrs. Williams stated.

 

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

Release: JIS

 

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