Official Complaint filed by Bahamas, citing TCI Nat’l Swim Coach is ‘out of order’
By Deandrea Hamilton
#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.
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
Debrief on Haiti Caribbean heads visit
#Haiti, March 17, 2023 – When a CARICOM delegation visited Haiti earlier this month, conspicuously absent was the Turks and Caicos Islands despite being one of the nations most directly affected by the multi-dimensional crisis there. There is no comment, as yet from the Premier, to say why this was the case.
Still, from the expedition, CARICOM heads of Government have informed that there will be lobbying in Africa for assistance in Haiti. They say they have decided that the best course of action for the Caribbean country is to bolster the Haitian National Police and act as intermediaries with Africa and the world. The decision follows a one day visit on February 27th, and a March 5th meeting chaired by the Bahamas.
CARICOM says during the trip delegates ‘met with a broad range of Haitian stakeholders to hear their views on the way forward to a Haitian-led solution’. With that in mind it has made a decision on how to proceed.
“The Heads of Government agreed to support the Haitian National Police in their efforts to address the security situation. The focus of the Community will be the provision of training for the HNP and the provision of humanitarian assistance to HNP and the wider Haitian society, taking into account the challenging humanitarian and security situation”
It’s not clear yet where and how this training will take place. Also distinctly absent from the report, no more mention of boots on the ground from other countries despite CARICOM Member States indicating they were ready and willing should it come to that.
In addition, recognizing ‘the common historical experiences and the strong African-Caribbean relationship’ CARICOM says,
“Heads of Government also agreed to seek support from African countries for Haiti. They also agreed to work with the Governments of Canada and the United States as well as the UNDP”
Magnetic Media has reached out to the Premier’s Office to get a full debrief of the February 27th visit (led by Jamaica; including The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago) to learn of Turks and Caicos’ posture following the critical sessions.
New ASHLEY’S LEARNING CENTRE CONCERT
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Musicians from the New World Symphony will be in the Turks and Caicos in concert next month and residents are invited to attend in support of the future of Ashley’s Learning Center.
A fairly young orchestral academy based in Miami, the New World Symphony was launched in the 1980s by 1987, Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison,Carnival Cruises founder. From the 1500 applicants who vie for a spot each year, the symphony accepts around 35 music graduates annually for training fellowships.
A select few of those graduates will be in country on April 8th headlining at the Ashley’s Learning Center concert ‘We’re all in this together’. The concert which also feature local artistes will be held at Brayton Hall on Venetian Road from 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Tickets are available ON ISLEHELP $75 PER GENERAL SEAT $125 PER PREMIUM SEAT $195 PER GALLERY SEAT – with /FREFRESHMENTS.
For TICKET RESERVATIONs you can call: 649-341-2304 or email EVENTS@ASHLEYSLEARNINGCENTER.ORG
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