ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Antiuga’s Prime Minister, Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer held a ceremony naming Antiguan athlete, Daniel “Bakka” Bailey as Sports Ambassador. The ceremony was held on Saturday, September 6th at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer Prime Minister remarks:
I am sure Ladies and Gentlemen, that not long after the August 16th moment of exhilaration experienced by all who were glued to their television screens or computer monitors, pundits gathered, beamed with pride and reminisced on their own personal experiences with a young man whose height on the world scene far exceeded his comparatively small feet physique.
Some of those pundits would have reflected on the promise they saw in this young man from as early as 2002. Others would have recalled his Sportsman of the Year Awards in 2004 and 2005. Others celebrated his successes in Youth Championships, his record breaking sprint in Brazil, his 9.91seconds best in Paris and others still could not keep up with the count of the number of times he had broken the national record in 2009 alone.
Others shamefacedly lost their bets that an Antiguan and Barbudan would not stand a chance to even survive to the finals in the 100 metre dash and to do so in under10 seconds.
Yet others, who got goose bumps when a Caribbean man won an Olympic Gold, declared that they could not contain themselves when an Antiguan and Barbudan raced unto the World Scene with an impressive speed.
This comparatively diminutive young man held his own against the world’s fastest man of all times. He held his own, we held our breath, but still managed to beam with pride!
It is still possible we declared; it is still possible! Yes, indeed, Daniel Bailey has re-confirmed the fact that it is possible. It is possible for a tiny island nation like ours to make a name for itself on the world scene. Daniel Bailey has confirmed that it is still possible to do what those who have preceded him in other sporting disciplines have accomplished at the world level.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be here tonight as we pay tribute to our country’s most recent sports achiever on the international level – our very own Daniel ‘Bakka’ Bailey.
Daniel is now Antigua and Barbuda’s fastest man in the 100 m sprint.
Daniel is the fastest man in the OECS.
Daniel is the first national to reach the finals in the World Athletic Championships.
Daniel has placed Antigua and Barbuda as the second fastest country in the Caribbean after Jamaica and the third fastest in the world after Jamaica and the U.S.A.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Daniel Bailey is the 4th fastest man in the world, so declared in the 12th World Championship in Athletics where the world record was broken. Let us applaud his efforts.
While Daniel did not medal on this occasion, we applaud his outstanding achievements and encourage him to go for the gold. Congratulations Daniel!
Ladies and gentlemen, the series of events which began earlier this afternoon represents our nation’s, our people’s, high regard for the outstanding performance of our own people. It is also indicative of our government’s commitment to the promotion and development of sport and recreation. This commitment derives from our knowledge that sport and recreation serve to build our nation and are an essential part of our efforts to improve the quality of life of all.
A flag welcome for Daniel Bailey from students of his Alma Mater Antigua Grammar School.
I will admit that there are challenges, but I am also pleased to announce that there are also changes. I wish to commend the Ministry of Sports for the significant time and effort which is being invested in the restructuring of the Department of Sports.
I underscore my support for the new approach of Ministry of Sports to place a greater focus on policy formulation and facilitation of key stakeholders to implement homegrown developmental programmes and less on direct implementation.
I am also pleased to report that significant progress has been made to complete a standardized athlete recognition system which would not only provide for consistency in individual acknowledgement but also serve as a motivator for all who aspire to excellence in sports.
Daniel Bailey with his mother and father and close relative.
I will however hasten to invite the Minister of State, Senator, the Honourable Winston Williams to treat as a priority the development of a mechanism which will ensure that potential and existing elite athletes have the protection and support of the relevant sporting bodies and organizations to enable such athletes to develop to their fullest extent.
It is my advice that the Ministry of Sports should immediately seek potential avenues which can provide additional financial support for athletes such as Daniel Bailey within the next six (6) months. The road ahead in this present economic dispensation will not be easy, but I am confident that an investment now in sports will reap benefits in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am not only heartened by the events of our star athlete but also the events which we are now a part of. Who would believe that in spite of our economic challenges, we were still able to come together and provide this warm welcome, this tremendous applause to one of our own?
Who would believe that collaboration between stakeholders made this possible?
Who would believe that in spite of our individual and collective personal challenges, a number of persons, a number of organizations put these behind them and volunteered their time, gave freely of their resources, practiced their negotiation skills and identified existing human and other resources with a virtual shoestring budget to create a response in the face of challenges?
No one entity can claim fame tonight. Why? Because, the team recognized that no one entity could and should be responsible for a national endeavour! A national endeavour such as sports and recreation is just that! It is the all of the people’s business.
The Daniel Bailey experience and success also goes beyond one entity as well, with the support he has received from his family, friends, teachers, coaches, sponsors and well wishers. A public recognition for all of your contributions is in order. It is our hope that others like you provide similar support for other young people who wish to follow a similar path.
Tonight we are witnessing a commendable model of collaboration. I would like to personally and on behalf of the Government thank the private sector for its contribution.
Supreme Security Services and Global Bank of Commerce must be singled out and commended for their support.
Commendation must also go to:
* Stonewall Reloaded,
* our top Antiguan and Barbudan Musical Artistes,
* Jughead’s Lighting,
* Premier Beverages,
* Aristo Cars & Rentals,
* Xcellent Sport News,
* the National Olympic, Athletic, Triathlon and other Sports Associations,
* the Media and our very own
* Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium Board,
* ABS Radio and Television,
* the Education Department including the Villa and Antigua Grammar Schools,
* the Ministry of Health,
* the Ministry of National Security,
* the Ministry of Tourism,
* the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority,
* the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board,
* Office of the Minister of State with responsibility for Sports, Local Government and the National School Meals Programme and my own
* Departments in the Office of the Prime Minister
I have taken the time to list the main team players in the collaboration so that you could appreciate the extent of the experience. Thank you all for making a contribution, thank you all for collaborating to produce such a tremendous response. In the spirit of good sportsmanship you supported the work of the Coordinating Committee.
This is an excellent example of the kind of togetherness, the level of volunteerism and hard work which we will need to exhibit to pull ourselves up to the next level. Dare I say, these are the characteristics we will need to pull ourselves out of our economic challenges? Stakeholders, partners, I commend you all and encourage you all to continue the great work.
It would be remiss of me not to also acknowledge and pay tribute to our other talented sports men and women who have also been representing our nation to the best of their abilities and for making us proud to be Antiguans and Barbudans.
Many of you are here tonight from other sporting disciplines. We celebrate with the Antigua Cricket Association and the National Team for their success at the Leeward Islands Championships and for the recent selection of an Antiguan and Barbudan on the West Indies team. We celebrate with the Antigua Sailing Association and National Team in the recent Caribbean Dinghy Championships.
We celebrate with the National Tennis Association and their athletes for the recent commendable performance. We celebrate with the National Athletic Association and the recent achievements of Brendan Christian and other track stars. There are more I am sure, that I did not mention but be assured of my pride and recognition of your performance.
To many of us, you are our heroes and heroines who have brought glory upon us, who have performed great deeds for all of us, who will continue to take us to even greater heights of fulfillment.
I believe that our sports men and women, including those who are here today, must see themselves as we see them, as a crucial component part of our narrative of national progress.
Your commitment to excellence in your respective codes and the maintenance of high standards must serve as a reminder to all Antiguans and Barbudans to work hard, to persevere and to strive to excel in all spheres of our national life.
Before I close, I would like to take this opportunity to once again commend Daniel Bailey for his performance and to officially announce my Government’s decision to acknowledge your performance by way of a gift of ½ an Acre of Land which we hope will serve as a symbol of our pride to you and successive generations.
What you have accomplished in a matter of months for Antigua and Barbuda, no large sums of money could have produced such recognition for Antigua and Barbuda. You are truly an Ambassador for this great nation of ours.
You have joined the ranks of star athletes such as our National Hero Sir. Vivian Richards, Richie Richardson, Andy Roberts, Maurice Hope, Curtley Ambrose and the list goes on.
It is with this in mind that I also announce that I will advise Her Excellency the Governor General to officially appoint you as one of our new Sporting Ambassadors conferring on you the title of Your Excellency.
Daniel, continue to make us proud as you go for the gold.
Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.
May God bless each and every one of us.
May God Bless Antigua and Barbuda.
Let the celebration continue!