Fun, movement, learning and discovery at 3rd annual Sports Festival celebrating Olympic Day

Saturday, June 25 saw children and adults join the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) and member National Federations in the 3rd annual Sports Festival promoting the Olympic Day Movement at the A.O. Shirley Recreation Grounds and Virgin Gorda on June 25.

“This year, Olympic Day set out to inspire people to get active and move together with purpose and we feel that the annual Sports Festival is an ideal way to bring the community out, discover a sport, learn about anti-doping and about making changes for a healthier lifestyle and hopefully forge new friendships,” said Mr. Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC.

National Federations including the Virgin Islands Archery Association, BVI Athletics Association, BVI Basketball Federation, BVI Football Association, Virgin Islands Softball/Baseball Association, Boynes Taekwondo and Volleyball took part in the interactive event.

Special appearances included His Excellency the Governor Mr. John Rankin, softball athlete Mr. Kennard Dawson, former pro volleyball player Ms. Sharonda Pickering and the National Women’s 3×3 Basketball team players, Ms. Joy Victor, Ms. Shaliqua Fahie, Ms. Kiara Woodley, Ms. Jolene Bowens and Ms. Keithrece Smith. The 3×3 basketball team will be participating at the inaugural Caribbean Games this week in Guadeloupe and also will make up the historic team to represent the BVI at basketball at the Commonwealth Games for the first time this summer in Birmingham, UK.

Dr. Harlan Vanterpool representing the BVI National Anti-Doping Organisation was in attendance and spoke with athletes, coaches and parents on the relevance of the anti-doping regulations in athletes’ lives and in playing clean sports.

The BVI Public Health Promotions Unit represented by Ms. Sophia Brewely-Massiah, Ms. Harmonie Massiah, Ms. Patrice Maduro was a popular addition to this year’s event where people took part in a hands-on presentation to receive a personalised recommendation on creating balanced meals based on current level of activity and eating habits. The team also helped individuals to interpret and understand their body measurements and how to set realistic goals with a balance of food and exercise.

His Excellency Governor John Rankin shared words of encouragement and took part in some of the activities including the BVIAA obstacle course and Archery’s practice drill.

“I’m all in support of events and sports that will get our community active, no matter the age or ability and I’m very pleased to have had a go. If I can do it, so can you!” said H.E. Governor Rankin.

“I play basketball but I tried some of the other sports today and really enjoyed them,” said 6th grader Antoine Reilly. “I’m glad I came out. I had to ask my Dad to come back for me later than planned as I was having so much fun!”

In the Multipurpose complex a new basketball recruit was pitching her skills against the national squad. “I’m a softball player but now that the Industrial League has drawn to a close, I was looking to try another sport just to stay active. I’m an NBA fan and watch the games on TV so I decided to actually play the sport and, just a week in, I can say I’m really enjoying it,” said Ms. Shah.

“Thank you to all the National Federations who participated, to those who came out in support and to our drink sponsor Road Town Wholesale, distributor of Coca-Cola products Dasani water and Powerade for making this a fun event,” said Mr. Penn.

During the Sports Festival weekend, three National Federations hosted events. The BVI Squash Rackets Association hosted the highest caliber Professional Squash Association international tournament of the territory to date, BVI Rugby Football Union hosted a junior rugby game followed by a Senior 15s match while the BVI Cycling Federation conducted its UCI sanctioned National Time Trial and Road Race events.

Olympic Day was established in 1948 as an annual occasion where everyone everywhere can get together in their communities to celebrate the Olympic values of Respect, Excellence, Friendship and Peace while celebrating the Olympic Day pillars: Move. Learn. Discover.

See more photos on Facebook: https://bit.ly/sportsfestival2022

BVIOC announces team for inaugural Caribbean Games

BVIOC announces the BVI team for the inaugural Caribbean Games to be held June 29 – July 3, 2022 in Guadeloupe. The Team includes 11 track and field athletes and 4 basketball players. (L-R front row): Steve Augustine, President, BVI Athletics Association, Ralston Henry, Chef de Mission, Ephraim Penn, President, BVIOC, Honourable Sharie de Castro, Minister for Education, Culture and Youth Affairs, Lloyd Black, Secretary General, BVIOC. (L-R back row) Chester Levi James, Physio, Beyonce Defreitas (100, 4×100), Shauliqua Fahie (3×3), Joy Victor, 3×3 basketball Coach, Djimon Gumbs (shot put), Malik Romney (110 hurdles), Malik John (400, 4×100), Diamante Gumbs (shot put), Arianna Hayde (long jump, triple jump, javelin, 4×100), Mikkel Bassue (100, 4×100), Kiara Woodley (3×3). Absent Jolene Bowens (3×3), Keithrece Smith (3×3), Xiomara Malone (long jump, 4×100), Ke’Andrae Campbell (100, 4×100), Zara Brown (100, 4×100) and Vadley Sylvester JR (400, 4×100). PHOTO CREDIT: CM Farrington

The BVI Olympic Committee announced the team of 15 athletes that will be representing the BVI at the inaugural Caribbean Games which are scheduled to take place in Guadeloupe from June 29 to July 3, 2022.

The athletes who will compete in the regional U23 Games were introduced by the Chef De Mission Ralston Henry at a press conference held on June 21 at the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.

The 11 track and field athletes include Ke’Andrae Campbell (100, 4×100), Malik Romney (110 hurdles), Diamante Gumbs (shot put), Djimon Gumbs (shot put), Malik John (400, 4×100), Beyonce Defreitas (100, 4×100), Zara Brown (100, 4×100), Arianna Hayde (long jump, triple jump, javelin, 4×100), Xiomara Malone (long jump, 4×100), Mikkel Bassue (100, 4×100) and Vadley Sylvester JR (400, 4×100). They will be accompanied by coaches Ericca Fredrick and Eric Matthias J and physiotherapist Chester James.

The 3×3 basketball team comprises Kiara Woodley, Shauliqua Fahie, Jolene Bowens and Keithrece Smith. They will be accompanied by Coach Joy Victor.

Beyonce de Freitas will be the flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony which kicks off the Games at 7:00pm on Thursday, June 29.

“We are very excited to be sending a competitive team of track and field athletes as well as our historic 3×3 Women’s Basketball team, who are the first set of female athletes to be representing the territory in the sport in a regional event,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC. “Beyonce de Freitas and Djimon Gumbs returned as medalists from the the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in 2017. They did us proud then so we have high expectations that we may hear the Territorial Song for the first time at a major Games on this occasion.”

Honourable Sharie De Castro, Minister for Education, Culture and Youth Affairs shared remarks on the occasion. “It’s a great feeling when we send our athletes as ambassadors to the region and the world to celebrate and to show their Virgin Islands pride,” said Honourable de Castro. “We know, and are appreciative of, the hard work that it takes to prepare for Games such as these we want to put the full force of our population behind you in cheering you on and supporting you. On behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands, we offer our full support behind Team BVI.”

The Minister went on to thank the BVIOC, the National Federations and the DYAS for the continued initiatives – the funding and the development that allow the athletes to continue to thrive.

29 countries will be represented by approximately 800 athletes and 200 officials competing in 7 disciplines.

The 7 sports include Athletics, Basketball 3×3, Cycling, Futsal, Judo, Netball and Swimming. The BVI will be represented in Athletics and Basketball 3×3.

The Chef de Mission will depart for Guadeloupe on June 25 ahead of the athletes, coaches and President of the BVIOC who will leave for the Caribbean Games on June 27.

The Closing Ceremony will be at 7:00pm on Sunday, July 3. The Games can be followed live on Panam Sports Channel.

Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay brings unity through community in the BVI – Full Report

On May 3 and 4, the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) in its capacity as the Commonwealth Games Association (BVICGA) hosted the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in the Virgin Islands (UK). The Queen’s Baton toured communities on Tortola and Virgin Gorda heralding the upcoming Commonwealth Games which will be held in Birmingham, UK from July 28 to August 8, 2022.

The Queen’s Baton arrived from Dominica into the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport on Monday, May 2 and was presented by Ms. Korlita Hamilton of the Dominica CGA to Mr. Ephraim Penn, President of the BVICGA.

The Welcome and Opening Ceremony on Tuesday, May 3 at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Games officially marked the start of Queen’s Baton Relay in the BVI with remarks by His Excellency Governor John Rankin, the Honourable Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley and Mr. Penn, and an explanation of the workings of the Queen’s Baton by Mr. Joe Chapman, Baton Manager and 4x Commonwealth Games squash player.

The ceremony started with the Althea Scatliffe Striders Drum Corps and the entrance of the Queen’s Baton brought in by past Commonwealth Games athletes to include Lindel “Chef” Hodge, Steve Augustine, Ralston “Grandfather” Henry, Tynelle Gumbs, Trevia Gumbs and Joe Chapman. It was followed by a programme of recitals and performances of cultural and heritage significance curated by Dr. Katherine Smith, Director of the Department of Culture and presented by Poet Laureate Dr. Richard Georges, President of the HLSCC; author and poet Miss. Anika Christopher, Birmingham 2022 QBR Creative Programme Awardee; Mr. Phil Aspinall, MBE, Operations Manager, Virgin Islands Search & Rescue; the Comfoo Dance Ensemble; Leonora Delville Primary School; and the Razor Blades.

The relay through Road Town was started by the BVI Athletics Association Carifta 2022 athletes and Honourable Kye Rymer, District 5 Representative. The route followed a heritage trail and Baton handover stops starting from the Sugarworks Museum (Batonbearer D’Nila Thomas, student Althea Scatliffe Primary School), to the J. R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens (Batonbearer Ms. Vanessa King, O’Neal Webster), to the Sunday Morning Well (Batonbearer Mr. David Thomas, Clarence Thomas Ltd), to the E. Walwyn Brewley Ball Park (Batonbearers V I Softball Baseball Association), to the Elmore Stoutt High School (Batonbearer Jelani Croal, Grade 12, ESHS) to H.M. Prison Museum (Batonbearer Mr. Matthew Cowman, Walkers (BVI) Limited), to Midtown Restaurant (Batonbearers Caribbean Insurance Ltd), to the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park (Batonbearers representatives of the BVI Bank Association), to the Waterfront Drive traffic lights (Batonbearers Coralisle Group), to Sir Olva Georges Plaza (Batonbearers Road Town Wholesale Trading Ltd) to the Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly (Batonbearer, Mrs. Vicki Francis, Governor’s Office) to the Old Government House Museum. Information was shared on the history of the location at each of the heritage and museum sites.

The Queen’s Baton was driven to the Ebenezer Thomas Primary School where it was met with vigorous enthusiasm by the students, staff and faculty. The relay to the Manuel Reef Marina was led by Batonbearers Honourable Julian Fraser, District 3 Representative, Mr. Milton McClean, Youth Sports leader, and Jehu Adams, Grade 6, ETPS. Adams handed the Baton over to Royal BVI Yacht Club sailing federation youth sailor, William Sanders and Mr. Jamel Davies, Chairman of the Tortola Sloop Foundation who sailed the Baton to the beach at Nanny Cay where it was handed over to Mr. Miles Sutherland-Pilch, General Manager, Nanny Cay Resort and Marina.

The afternoon visit included a stop at Carrot Bay to recognise the Stoutt family of fishermen – father Albert and sons Zacchari and Andrew – who continue to supply the local community and restaurants with fish and lobster caught in the traditional and sustainable way of seine and line fishing and free diving.

The Queen’s Baton was then welcomed at the Leonora Delville Primary School joined by student and teacher representation from the Jost Van Dyke Primary School and celebrated with dance and a symbolic relay around the school field with Batonbearers Frank Chinnery (JVDPS).

Day 1 of the relay concluded with a visit to the coal pit at Capoon’s Bay where the pit owner, Mr. Palett explained the process for preparing, generating and harvesting charcoal in the traditional way.

An evening reception hosted by the Governor was attended by the Carifta 2022 athletes, Commonwealth Games athletes and representatives of the National Federations.

The second and final day of the Queen’s Baton Relay saw the Queen’s Baton and accompanying delegation transported to Virgin Gorda courtesy of the Royal Virgin Islands Marine Police and H.M. Customs. The visit included a warm welcome reception organised by the Primary and Secondary schools of the Bregado Flax Education Center with remarks by Secondary Principal Hilroy George, Honourable Shereen Flax-Charles, Honourable Vincent Wheatley, District 9 Representative, and Mr. Penn. Presentations were performed by the Woodwind Ensemble, the BEFC Trio and the BFEC Lions and Arabians Cheerleaders.

A visit to the school’s Edible Garden of the Green Sprouts Eco Club managed by Green and Clean VI was followed by a relay led by Batonbearers, brothers Mekhi Water (Grade 12) and Audony Gangoo (Grade 5) from the school to the Green VI Eco Park where all guests were given a tour and overview of the work undertaken at the site by Green VI in association with Green VI Bug Out and which speak to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The penultimate leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay took a route through East End and Long Look with heritage sites and handover stops starting at the Chapel Hill Methodist Church with a brief history shared by Dr. Lavon Chalwell-Brewely before Batonbearer Dean Greenaway led the relay to Penn’s Landing handing over to Honourable Marlon Penn, District 8 Representative.

From there the Queen’s Baton was run to the Willard Wheatley Primary School (Batonbearer Jacobi David) to the East End Police Station (Batonbearer Mrs. Sylvia Forbes) to the Francis Lettsome Primary School (Batonbearer Damir Dobson) to the Long Look Methodist Church and the Stickett where Batonbearer Mrs. Brenda Lettsome-Tye, Director Department of Youth Affairs and Sports led the relay to the Long Look Tennis and Education Center to hand over to the youth and senior Cycling Federation members who cycled the Queen’s Baton to the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College via YEP.

At the HLSCC, the Baton was handed over to Ms. Winnette Lawrence of the V I Archery Association who passed it on to Dr. Richard Georges, President of the HLSCC who handed over to the HLSCC Volleyball team. The Baton was then jogged across to the Maritime Museum by students of the Marine Studies before a handover to Phillipe Leroy, representing the BVI Triathlon Federation, who, followed by others, cycled the Queen’s Baton on the final leg of the relay which culminated at Brandywine Bay beach.

The Queen’s Baton Relay in the BVI was brought to a close when members of the BVI Rugby Federation received the Baton followed by handovers to the BVI Football Association and the VI Volleyball Association. Each of the three National Federations showcased their sports in demo games on the beach with a traditional-rules, tug-of-war refereed by Mr. Elmore Stoutt ending the sports before closing remarks by Mr. Penn, President of the BVICGA. The grand finale was a cultural presentation speaking to national heritage and the VI’s history and maritime connections. Attendees were entertained and educated by songs, dances and story-telling performed by the Zion Sounds, Ms. Bria Smith, the Comfoo Dance Ensemble, the Heritage Dancers, Mrs. Lettsome and Miss Rosie Smith.

The key stakeholders involved in the planning and hosting of events included the Governor’s Office, the Premier’s Office, the Ministry of Education, Culture Youth Affairs, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Departments of Culture, Education, and Youth Affairs and Sports, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and the BVI Tourist Board.

Event sponsors include the BVI Banking Association – Banco Popular, Bank of Asia, CIBC FirstCaribbean, FirstBank, National Bank of the Virgin Islands, Republic Bank, and VP Bank – Caribbean Insurance Ltd, Clarence Thomas Ltd, Coralisle Insurance (BVI) Ltd, O’Neal Webster, Road Town Wholesale Trading Ltd, Walkers, Harneys and JOMA Properties.

National Federations, schools, and community and social groups supported the event as volunteers and participants in the relays through the districts.

The BVICGA has hosted four Queen’s Baton Relays since 2005, the last one being in 2017 ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia where Kyron McMaster made history by winning the territory’s first Commonwealth Games medal with a gold in the 400m hurdles.

The VI is expecting to take its largest contingent yet to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games with 19 athletes representing the territory in 5 sports – a first for the nation. 3×3 Basketball (Women’s Team) and Cycling will make their debut at a Commonwealth Games as the teams join athletes from track and field, squash and swimming.

The 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay touring through 72 Commonwealth nations and Overseas Territories will cover a distance of 140,000 kilometres over 269 days, traveling to Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas, before embarking on the final stretch of its journey across England for 25 days.

The Queen’s Baton Relay will complete its journey at the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on 28 July 2022. This is a traditional and fundamental part of the Games and the Opening Ceremony, as the final Batonbearer will pass the Baton back to The Queen. The Queen’s message to the Commonwealth will then be removed from the Baton and read aloud, marking the official start of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Photos of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay touring the BVI can be seen on the BVIOC’s Facebook page.

Student Batonbearers:

Althea Scatliffe School (ASPS), Road Town, Tortola
D’Niya Thomas (Handover at the Sugarworks Museum, Day 1)
D’Niya has represented for several years for Inter-Primary Spors. She has been the Victrix for Inter-House and Inter-Primary as well.

Elmore Stoutt High School, Road Town, Tortola (Day 1)
Jelani Croal
– Grade 12
Jelani was chosen because he is one of ESHS’ top athletes during the Inter-House competition and who went on to do very well at Carifta 2022

Ebenezer Thomas Primary School, Sea Cow’s Bay, Tortola (Day 1)
Jehu Adams
– Grade 6
Jehu is a hard-working, dedicated, disciplined and helpful young man who is the top Grade Six student for the Advent and Trinity terms of the 2021-2022 school year. Along with his classmates, he is actively involved in the process of planting and maintaining the crops in the school’s garden. He is also very much involved in anything that would enhance the lives of his classmate. Jehu is often involved in peer tutoring within the classroom. He has specifically been assigned to assist and mentor one of the ESL students. He assists him with in-class tasks, projects and homework whenever necessary.
Additionally, during the Lent term, Grade Six had started a recycling project. Jehu was actively involved in collecting, sorting and recording the data for the materials. He along with another student took the materials to the school’s recycling bins.
Jehu has proudly and effectively represented his school at various competitions and other extracurricular activities. Presently, he and another student are preparing to represent the school at the national spelling bee competition. Jehu’s self-less attitude and commitment to learning are admirable and examples to his peers.

Leonora Delville Primary School, Capoon’s Bay, Tortola (Day 1)
Mijael Jennings
(LDPS)
Kh’mahni Anthony (LDPS)
Frank Chinnery (Jost Van Dyke Primary School) – selected because he is an excellent athlete and the perfect representative for an event such as the Queen’s Baton Relay.

Bregado Flax Education Center, Virgin Gorda (Day 2)
BFEC Senior Division
Mekhi Water – Senior – Class of 2022
Mekhi is an all-round athlete excelling in Volleyball (BFEC) who also is the Football national U20 goalkeeper and of the VG United football club. He also is a Track and Field division winner. He is a diligent and committed student of the BFEC Senior School.

BFEC Primary Division
Audony Gangoo – Grade 5
Audony is one who we call a true Lion Ambassador. He puts his best foot forward in whatever he does. He is from a single parent home with 4 other siblings. This does not deter him from excelling in school, in sports and being one of our school ambassadors. Audony recently participated in the Inter-Primary Sports and ran in the 13+ category. Despite being pushed up to the older level, he persevered and came 2nd and 3rd in his races. He was determined to do his very best.

Currently, he is one of the top students in Grade 5, and he ensures that he continues is a positive influence for his peers.

Willard Wheatley Primary School, East End, Tortola (Day 2)
Jacobi David
– Grade 6
Jacobi has grown into a positive student. He is a good athlete and displays good sportsmanship. He continues to represent the school well in sports and never refuses when he is asked to do something. He is a team player and as this is his final year at WWPS, we feel he deserves the honour of carrying the Baton.

Francis Lettsome Primary School, Greenland, Tortola (Day 2)
Damir Dobson
– Grade 6
Damir is an enthusiastic 13-year-old, who excels in sports as one of his extracurricular endeavours. Damir is son to Earle Dobson and Glasmie Williamson. He represents his school at sporting events, and has been a top athlete, and proud Wildcat of FLPS, in Greenland, Tortola. Damir is the Francis Lettsome Primary School Wildcats’ 2022 Queen’s Relay Baton Bearer, because of his keen spirit, respectfulness, dedication to learning, willingness to help, community service, and pride in representing his school.

Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay brings unity through community

The BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) in its capacity as the Commonwealth Games Association (BVICGA) hosted the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in the Virgin Islands (UK) on Tuesday, May 3 and Wednesday, May 4.

The two-day event brought a perceptible positive energy at a time of political uncertainty in the territory. With a focus on celebrating culture, untold stories, heritage and traditions as well as the road to a sustainable-lifestyle future, the BVICGA worked closely with the Department of Culture and the Department of Education, Green VI and members of the community to deliver an engaging and elevating Queen’s Baton Relay as it toured communities on Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

“The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in the BVI delivered a most unexpected and welcome relief from troubled times during the two days that it toured our territory,” said Mr. Ephraim Penn, President pf the BVICGA. “The high energy and enthusiasm with which the Queen’s Baton was received by all who participated in the events were uplifting and encouraging as, once again, we see the power of sports in bringing the community together in shared hope. This did not go unnoticed by the Birmingham 2022 Global QBR organisers in the UK who shared with us that this was one of their favourite Queen’s Baton Relays!”

The Queen’s Baton arrived into the territory from Dominica on May 2 ahead of the official welcome and opening ceremony at the A.O. Shirley Recreation Grounds on May 3 when the Baton made its entrance in the hands of some of the BVI’s past Commonwealth Games athletes to include Lindel “Chef” Hodge, Steve Augustine, Ralston “Grandfather” Henry, Tynelle Gumbs, Trevia Gumbs and Joe Chapman.

Remarks by H.E. Governor John Rankin, Premier Dr. the Hon. Natalio Wheatley and Mr. Ephraim Penn, President of the BVICGA and an explanation of the workings of the Queen’s Baton by Mr. Joe Chapman, Baton Manager and 4x Commonwealth Games squash player, were part of a programme featuring recitals and performances of cultural and heritage significance curated by Dr. Katherine Smith, Director of the Department of Culture and presented by Poet Laureate Dr. Richard Georges, author and poet Miss. Anika Christopher, Mr. Phil Aspinall, MBE, the Comfoo Dance Ensemble, Leonora Delville Primary School, and the Razor Blades.

The relay legs through Road Town included heritage and museum sites such as the Sugarworks Museum, J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens, the Sunday Morning Well, H.M. Prison Museum, Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park, Sir Olva Georges Plaza and Old Government House Museum. Information was shared on the history of the location at each of the sites.

The Queen’s Baton was driven to the Ebenezer Thomas Primary School, Sea Cow’s Bay from where it was run to Manuel Reef Marina and sailed aboard a Traditional Tortola Sloop and a Feva of the Royal BVI Yacht Club Sailing Federation youth racing fleet to the beach at Nanny Cay Resort and Marina.

An afternoon stop at Carrot Bay included a visit with the fishing family of Mr. Albert Stoutt and his sons Zacchari and Andrew, who continue to supply the local community and restaurants with fish and lobster caught in the traditional and sustainable way of seine and line fishing and free diving. All present were treated to an impromptu scratch band performance at the North Shore Shell Museum owned by Mr. Egbert “Shellman” Donovan.

The Queen’s Baton was welcomed by students, staff and faculty at the Leonora Delville Primary School and representatives from the Jost Van Dyke Primary School before the Day 1 relay ended with a visit to the coal pit at Capoon’s Bay where pit owner, Mr. Palett explained the process for preparing, generating and harvesting charcoal in the traditional way.

An evening reception hosted by the Governor was attended by the Carifta 2022 athletes, Commonwealth Games athletes and representatives of the National Federations.

On the morning of May 4, the Queen’s Baton and delegation arrived at the Bregado Flax Education Center in Virgin Gorda for a warm reception programme executed by the Primary and Secondary divisions with remarks by Principal Hilroy George, Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles, Representative at Large, and Hon. Vincent Wheatley, District 9 Representative and Mr. Penn.

A visit to the school’s Green Sprouts Edible Garden was followed by a relay to the Green VI Eco Park for a tour and overview of the work undertaken at the site by Green VI in association with Green VI Bug Out and which speak to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The afternoon leg through East End and Long Look included Baton handover spots at national heritage sites of the Chapel Hill Methodist Church, the Long Look Methodist Church and the Stickett.

The Queen’s Baton Relay in the BVI was brought to a close with a sports showcase and a traditional-rules, tug-of-war refereed by Mr. Elmore Stoutt. The cultural finale entertained and educated through songs, dances and story-telling that spoke to national heritage and the VI’s history and maritime connections performed by the Zion Sounds, Ms. Bria Smith, the Comfoo Dance Ensemble, the Heritage Dancers, Mrs. Valerie Lettsome and Miss Rosie Smith.

The next stop for the Queen’s Baton Relay was St Kitts and Nevis as it makes its way back to the UK for the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on July 28.

The key stakeholders involved in the planning and hosting of events included the Governor’s Office, the Premier’s Office, the Ministry of Education, Culture Youth Affairs, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Departments of Culture, Education, and Youth Affairs and Sports, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and the BVI Tourist Board.

Event sponsors include the BVI Banking Association – Banco Popular, Bank of Asia, CIBC FirstCaribbean, FirstBank, National Bank of the Virgin Islands, Republic Bank, and VP Bank – Caribbean Insurance Ltd, Clarence Thomas Ltd, Coralisle Insurance (BVI) Ltd, O’Neal Webster, Road Town Wholesale Trading Ltd, Walkers, Harneys and JOMA Properties.

National Federations, schools, and community and social groups supported the event as volunteers and participants in the relays through the districts.

The BVICGA has hosted four Queen’s Baton Relays since 2005, the last one being in 2017 ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia where Kyron McMaster made history by winning the territory’s first Commonwealth Games medal with a gold in the 400m hurdles.

The VI is expecting to take its largest contingent yet to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games with 19 athletes representing the territory in 5 sports – a first for the nation. 3×3 Basketball (Women’s Team) and Cycling will make their debut at a Commonwealth Games as the teams join athletes from track and field, squash and swimming.

The 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay touring through 72 Commonwealth nations and Overseas Territories will cover a distance of 140,000 kilometres over 269 days, traveling to Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas, before embarking on the final stretch of its journey across England for 25 days.

The Queen’s Baton Relay will complete its journey at the Opening Ceremony – a traditional and fundamental part of the Games as the final Batonbearer passes the Baton back to The Queen or her representative. The Queen’s message to the Commonwealth will then be removed from the Baton and read aloud, marking the official start of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Read the full report.

Photos of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay touring the BVI can be seen on the BVIOC’s Facebook page.

Jaleel Croal runs sub 20 PB in Cali 2021 200m finals. 3×3 basketball team perform valiantly against top teams

Virgin Islands sprinter Jaleel Croal delivered a PB of 20.93 in the 200m finals at the Cali 2021 Junior Panam Games – his first major Games and season opener.

Pitching his speed against faster and older runners in the race, Jaleel did well to pull out all the stops to run sub 21 and place 5th. The new time smashes his previous PB of 21.10 achieved at the end of last  season.

“When I got on the track my main goal was to have fun and run a 21 so after a nice start and execution and finish and a 20.93 – even though I came 5th – I was the happiest man on the track at that moment. There’s more to come and I already marked the guys’ faces!” said Jaleel.

Speaking after the race, Coach Ralston “Grandfather” Henry said, “This is the peak time of season for the sprinters from Ecuador and Brazil and to see him come and run that fast with them is a major accomplishment!”

Jaleel already qualified for the World Athletics U20 Championships with his semi-finals time of 21.24 and he will be back at the same stadium for the event next August 1 – 6.

The medals in the Cali 2021 200m went to Anderson Marquinez (Ecuador, 20.51), Lucas Vilar (Brazil, 20.59) and Lucas Rodrigues Da Silva (Brazil,20.68).

Jaleel and Coach Grandfather return home to the BVI on Saturday, December 4.

The 3×3 basketball team comprising Shakeem Tyson, Michael Richardson, D’/Andre Mitchum and Stephano Paul played their final group game against Venezuela on December 3. The team gave everything they had and put up a much improved performance with contributions from all of them. While they ultimately lost 22-11 they remained very much in touch with their strong opposition until the halfway point when Venezuela showed their class and pulled away. Since that match, Venezuela went on to beat Puerto Rico (in their final group game) and then beat Brazil in the quarter finals. 

“After initially losing out 21-5 to Puerto Rico in their first match to only a day later be pushing Venezuela in a much closer affair shows how far the team has come in such a short amount of time,” said Chef de Mission Adam Murrills. “It also shows a strong mentality in their ability to problem-solve, adapt, work together and improve throughout what has been the BVI’s first International Competition for Basketball since 2010!

“Having spoken with the guys I know that they’re proud (and rightly so!) of how they performed and how they improved throughout the tournament and they’re keen to push on after this and hopefully experience more International Competition in the future!”

President Ephraim Penn who has attended the competitions from the start of the Games was impressed with the level of application and incremental improvement of all athletes and more so with the camaraderie and supportive attitude of the athletes from the different sports ensuring to attend the matches or watch live where physical attendance was not possible.

“The athletes and coaches all arrived as separate teams but as they leave these Games, they depart with a sense of one BVI team which is a very rewarding result in itself,” said President Penn.

“On behalf of the BVIOC, I congratulate Jaleel on setting a new PB coming off the blocks of the final at his first major Games. That he achieved this at the start of the season and racing against more experienced and older sprinters in the middle of their season is all them more exciting for what we can expect to see from him in 2022. Congratulations also to the 3×3 Basketball team who have done a remarkable job of holding their own in new territory. Thank you to the National Federations, their athletes and especially to their coaches, Ralston  “Grandfather” Henry, track and field coach and 2nd Vice President of the BVI Olympic Committee and to Coach West for Basketball for committing to and executing admirable performances at these inaugural Panam Junior Games.”

Thad Lettsome, who is based at Lake Calima with his coach, Chris Watters finished the 2nd day of the regatta with a 7th and 6th place for an overall 6thplace at the start of the final set of races in the one-person ILCA7 laser today, Saturday December 4. 

Coach Watters described the second day of competition as a “tough day”.

“It was cranking windy and we were closer to shore. The guys in 1st and 2nd place are in a race of their own; they have a good 15lbs on Thad. It’ll be a major focus for him moving forward. That and the downwind in heavy breeze flat water,” said Coach Watters. “He’s still not bad shape in the regatta. 6th overall but only 1 point from 5th. Bit of a gap to the medals but there’s some protests for 3/4 going on so we’re not out of it!”

The closing ceremony will take place on Sunday, December 5 after which the  3×3 team and BVI delegation will return home to the VI while Thad will return to Tulane University, New Orleans and Coach Watters to Florida.

Croal advances to semi-finals. Lettsome settles mid fleet on day 1 and 3×3 basketball compete in first two games of the Cali 2021 Junior Panam Games

Congratulations to Jaleel Croal who placed 3rd in his heat of the 200m semi-finals at the Cali 2021 inaugural Junior PanAm Games . His time of 21.24 secured a spot in the finals where he will run in lane 8 at 7:00pm on Friday December 3.

18-years old Jaleel came out of the race feeling positive about his time and performance. “Before the race I was nervous but I said to myself that the hard part is qualifying and the fun part is the finals. Once on the track I felt better and I felt good coming out of the blocks and overall felt the race was good. I am very happy about it and will be ready to give it my 100% in the finals.”

Coach Ralston “Grandfather” Henry also was happy with the race and performance saying, “It was a very good time with which to open the season at this time of the year. He ended the season with 21.10 so coming back with a 21.24 to start the season was very good. I’m looking forward to what we will see in the finals.”

Thad Lettsome closed out his first day of racing the ILCA7 laser with a 5th and 4th place finish out of a fleet of 14 which, according to Coach Chris Watters, is exactly where they planned to be. “Thad did a really good job starting, sailing smart and conservatively. We want to be in the middle of the hunt all the way through the end so we’re hoping for similar conditions tomorrow,” said Coach Watters.

“The first day of the regatta went well,” said Thad. “We’re looking to maintain a consistent score line and then perhaps look at being more aggressive and making a push after the first race as that would mark the half way point of the event.”

Thad will compete in 4 more races with 2 each on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4.

The BVI 3×3 basketball team competed in their first two matches of their first international Game where they lost out to Puerto Rico 5-21 in a shake up match. The 2nd match against Colombia went better for the team as they held the lead for the first part before finally conceding the game by 6 points for a 9-15 score. The team comprising Michael Richardson, Shakeem Tyson, Stephano Paul, D’Andre Mitchum and Coach Trevor “West” Stevens will face Venezuela at 11:30am BVI time on Friday, December 3.

“Today has been a very positive day for Team BVI at the Junior PanAm Games,” said Chef de Mission Adam Murrills. “The day started with a very tough game for our basketball team against one of the favourites. They really showed a strong mentality in bouncing back in their 2nd match against home country Colombia. They still have a chance of qualifying and so there is everything still to play for. After speaking with the boys they are up for the challenge and are looking forward to getting stuck in!

“Thad had a great day out on the water executing objectives which put him in 4th place ready to mount a challenge for a medal while Jaleel did the business in the 200m semi-final and everyone is looking forward to cheering him on in his final where he’ll be going in with no pressure!”

BVI Olympic President Ephraim Penn has been in Colombia since November 21 where he attended the meetings as a member of the Technical Commission as well as attending the Panam Sports AGM and the Extraordinary General Assembly of Centro Caribe Sports along with Secretary General Lloyd Black.

“So far the Cali 2021 Junior PanAm Games have been very busy both from a technical perspective and from the angle of our athletes, coaches and physio, Levi James” said President Penn. “This is a new experience for all but one of our juniors – that being Thad Lettsome who competed in his first major Games at the Lima 2019 PanAm Games. I am impressed with how the athletes have adapted to the demands and expectations of international competition guided by their coaches. They are excited, yet disciplined and focused and are great ambassadors for the Virgin Islands. As Chef de Mission, Adam Murrills is doing an excellent job of making sure that our athletes are well looked after and that the delegation is kept up to date and informed of all schedules and requirements as may be announced by the organisers. As the BVI Olympic Committee, we couldn’t be prouder of our team and we look forward to the action over the next couple of days.”

The live action can be seen on Panam Sports Channel, CBNTelevision.com and CBN Channel 101. Full scores for competing nations can be found on calivalle2021.com.

Zara Brown places 4th in 100m semi-finals at Cali 2021 in season opener

Representing the Virgin Islands (UK) at the inaugural PanAm Junior Games in Cali, Colombia, Zara Brown finished 4th with a non-advancing time of 11.87 in her heat of the 100m semifinals today, November 30.

Speaking after the event, the 19-year old sprinter said “I feel okay about the race. As a season opener, it gives me a chance to see where I am and what I have to work on going forward – both for indoor and outdoor. It’s been a good experience for me and I can’t wait to be back!”

Coach Ralston Henry noted that this was Zara’s first race after being laid off for so long and a good race for opening the Season early. “I am looking forward to a lot more to come later in the Season and ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

8 competitors will race in the women’s 100m finals on December 1.

100m sprinter Jaleel Croal, Thad Lettsome, sailing the ILCA7 (Laser) in the men’s one person dinghy event, and the 3 x 3 Basketball team comprising D’Andre Mitcham, Stephano Paul, Michael Richardson, and Shakeem Tyson will all compete on December 2. Lettsome will be racing against some of the region’s best sailors aged between 17-22 from 14 countries. The 3 x 3 basketball team – who are placed in group A along with Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico – will face Colombia in their first match.

Following the competitions of the day, the BVI Olympic Committee will host a virtual live chat with the BVI delegation in Colombia at 8:00pm on Thursday, December 2 and which will be streamed on the BVIOC Facebook page when all fans and supporters can tune in and post their questions to the athletes and coaches.

9 athletes to represent Virgin Islands in 4 sports at inaugural Junior PanAm Games in Cali-Valle, Colombia

The British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee (BVIOC) has confirmed that 9 athletes will represent the Virgin Islands in 4 sports at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games which will take place in Cali-Valle, Colombia, November 25 – December 5, 2021.

The VI team comprising 1 sailor, 3 track athletes, 1 squash player and 4 basketball players will start to arrive into Colombia from November 24 ahead of the opening ceremony on November 25 and their events starting November 26. Chef de Mission and squash coach, Adam Murrills will be in Cali in advance of the athletes in preparation of their arrival.

“I have been working closely with the National Federations and the coaches confirming the athletes’ participation at Cali 2021 and ensuring that all processes are completed,” said Murrills. “I attended the Chef de Missions’ seminar in Cali in September and am satisfied that our athletes will be comfortably accommodated and will have the opportunity to settle in and train ahead of their events.”

The first athletes to qualify for Cali 2021 were sailor Thad Lettsome, who made his first major Games debut at the Lima 2019 Panam Games and swimmer Elinah Phillip, who made her first Olympic appearance at Rio 2016 and competed again at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Unfortunately, Phillip is making a health recovery and will not be able to compete at Cali.

Lettsome will compete in the men’s ILCA 7 single person dinghy on Lake Calima, December 2 – 4.

Making his major Games debut, Luca Reich will be the first athlete to compete at Cali 2021 when he faces his squash opponents at Club Campestre de Cali, November 26 – 27.

The 3 track athletes who are all competing at their first major Games are sprinters Rikkoi Brathwaite (100m and 200m), Jaleel Croal (200m) and Zara Brown (100m). The 100m races take place November 30 – December 1 and the 200m events take place at the Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero, Santiago de Cali, December 2 – 3.

The VI will be represented in basketball at a major Game For the first time since appearing at the CAC Games in 2010 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. D’Andre Mitcham, Stephano Paul, Michael Richardson, and Shakeem Tyson have been selected to form the 3×3 basketball team competing at the Pan American Courts in Cali, December 2 – 5.

BVIOC President Ephraim Penn, who was elected as a member of the Panam Sports Technical Commission in April 2021, will also be in attendance at the Games.

“This is the second major Games since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics held last summer and we are excited for our junior athletes who will be taking to the international stage. For the majority of athletes representing the VI at these Games, this will be the first time competing for their country,” said BVIOC President Ephraim Penn. “At the start of the pandemic, the region’s NOCs were uncertain as to when the inaugural Junior PanAm Games would be held until the commitment was made by Cali to move the dates from June 2021 to the end of the year. We have embraced the opportunity presented to our young athletes who have their eyes on the future including the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the 2023 Panam Games and the Paris 2024 Olympics.”

The Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games is a pathway to the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games and Paris 2024 Olympic Games with gold medalists gaining automatic qualification to Santiago 2023.

The VI delegation to Cali 2021 also includes, Lloyd Black (Secretary General, BVIOC), coaches Chris Watters (sailing), Ralston Henry (athletics), Trevor Stevens (basketball) and physiotherapist, Levi James.

3,500 athletes from 41 countries will compete in 39 sports across 10 days of nonstop action which will be broadcast live and direct on the Panam Sports Channel and on CBN Television Channel 101 beginning with the Opening Ceremony on November 25 and concluding when the curtain is lowered on the Games at the Closing Ceremony on December 5.

Follow the BVIOC on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates and results.

Athlete performances at Tokyo 2020 Olympics brings BVI in sight of podium – BVIOC seeks investment into elite athletes

The British Virgin Islands was represented by 3 athletes in 2 sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which concluded on August 8 with a closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. The small team comprising Kyron McMaster (400m hurdles), Chantel Malone (long jump) and Elinah Phillip (50m freestyle) was the strongest set to represent the territory at any Olympic Games.

Eldred Henry (shot put) was the first athlete to have qualified for Tokyo 2020 but he was forced to pull out due to an injury in his throwing arm.

In a Game of firsts for the territory, McMaster and Malone became the BVI’s first 2 athletes to advance to the finals to compete amongst the world’s best athletes in their events. They each were the first athletes to compete in the hurdles and long jump respectively. McMaster was the first athlete to win his heats and the first to make the top 4 finalists to cross the line with his time of 47.08 – current 4th fastest time and the world’s 8th fastest time ever – in what has been classed as the event’s fastest Olympic race. McMaster and Phillip also set National Records with Phillip’s time of 25.74 marking her as the top Caribbean performer in the 50m Free.

Harrigan-Scott, a three-times Olympian and the first female to represent the BVI at the Olympics in 2008, led the organisation and management of the team at the Games.

Speaking at a wrap up virtual press conference on August 4 after the final competition for the BVI, Ephraim Penn, President of the BVI Olympic Committee congratulated and thanked the athletes, their coaches and National Federations and also acknowledged the efforts of the Chef de Mission and Lloyd Black, Secretary General for the BVIOC, who was the COVID Liaison Officer for the delegation.

Penn went on to explain that the impressive results of the team at the Games was many years in the making that required planning and funding to support the athletes in their training and preparations for the Games. He highlighted that the performances put the athletes as serious podium contenders in upcoming Games and that the opportunity was open to the private sector to support the pathway to get athletes to the finals and ultimately to the podium of the Olympics.

“The athletes have been preparing for these Games for 5 years and are recipients of an Olympic Scholarship which offers financial and technical support so they can train and compete at qualifying meets for the Olympics. In addition, the BVIOC set up an Elite Athlete scholarship which puts money into the hands of the athletes to ease their financial stress so that they can concentrate on preparing for competition. Their successes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will make it easier for us to try and solicit more funding from the private sector and bolster the structure we have in place to support them so they can develop to the best of their ability.”

The Chef de Mission, who is responsible for the organisation and logistical management of the delegation as well as the technical aspects of the athletes’ competitions and daily schedules and activities while at the Games, reviewed the athletes’ performances and acknowledged the commitment of their coaches and support of the BVIOC and encouraged a forward movement to help the athletes reach their potential.

“While our athletes may come from a small nation where the resources are more limited than larger countries, they come to compete with the same heart, talent and dedication so if we can figure out a way to level the playing field and really invest in them, you will be surprised at where they can take us because they are at that level and they are exceptionally good.”

Harrigan-Scott wrapped up the experience with a reflection on the organisation of the Games. “It actually was an amazing Games and the organisers, volunteers and Government of Japan did an incredible job under the constraints and concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am glad the Games were not cancelled as the athletes were ready to compete and we have seen some exceptional performances here.”

Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, MHA. Deputy Premier Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, who was in Japan to witness the finals, congratulated the athletes on their achievements and thanked them and the delegation for their roles in the success of the BVI’s appearance at Tokyo 2020 and to pledge more support for the athletes.

“We now understand what it takes to compete at this level and I will be focused on what we can do to assist more. We know that we have to invest more in sports and be more consistent in our support for our athletes and I will be working on this in consultation with the BVIOC,” said Dr. the Honourable Minister Wheatley.

In addition to the 3 athletes, the Chef de Mission, Ephraim Penn and Lloyd Black the BVI delegation included Team Coach Winston Potter, Coach Lennox Graham (McMaster), Coach Dwight Phillips (Malone), Coach Brien Moffitt (Elinah) and Sofia Fay, BVIOC PRO/Reporter.

The athletes, including Henry who is on the road to recovery, will continue with their training and preparations for upcoming competitions after a short rest and recovery break. A return date to the BVI is not yet confirmed based on their training and competition schedules. Malone and McMaster have sights on competing at the Diamond League events in Europe in August and September respectively.

Kyron McMaster delivers historic performance at Tokyo 2020 Olympic finals

Kyron McMaster of Team British Virgin Islands competes during round one of the Men’s 400m hurdles heats on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Kyron McMaster wrapped up Team BVI’s performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games on August 3 with an historic 4th place finish in what is classed as the fastest 400m Hurdles race of all time. McMaster’s time of 47.08 sets a new National Record and Personal Best and is ranked as the 5th top fastest times at an Olympics and the 8th all time fastest in the world. He is the first BVI athlete to achieve a top 4 position in an Olympic final.

“Being in the race felt amazing. The plan was to come out and just execute the race as best as possible. I came into this race with a personal best of 47.50 and I chopped off 0.4 off my best and I literally gave it my all,” said McMaster.

4 years ago, 47.08 would have been a World Record or an Olympic Record but with the medal contenders consistently running 47 in their pre-Olympic competitions, the bar was raised for Tokyo 2020. The 3 top spots were won by Karsten Warholm (Norway) who set a new World Record and Olympic Record with a blistering time of 45.94 followed by Benjamin Rai (USA) 46.17 and Alison do Santos (Brazil) for the bronze with a time of 46.72.

“What you saw today was the epitome of greatness with the world’s top 3 hurdlers and I am grateful that my performance was enough to get me in the top four to cross the line,” said McMaster. “These guys are not the average runners anymore and I will be aiming to get to their level.”

McMaster, who was racing after 2 weeks of treatment on his right quad which he tweaked at the Diamond League race in Sweden, was the first male athlete of the territory and second national athlete to advance to an Olympic final. He is also the first athlete to win individual event heats at the Olympics. His time is an OECS, Caribbean and Central American record.

Chantel Malone of Team British Virgin Islands competes in the Women’s Long Jump Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Chantel Malone, who is the BVI’s first Olympic long jump competitor was the territory’s first athlete to advance to the finals when she jumped a distance of 6.82 in the Qualifier round. She closed out her first Olympic appearance with a mark of 6.50 in her third attempt falling short of her expectations and abilities.

“I am very disappointed with my result,” said Malone. “My intention was to go out there and at least execute and I didn’t. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the experience and being able to compete as a finalist at the Olympics. I am going to do what I need to do in order to stay on my A game and be able to compete and get on the podium.”

Elinah Phillip, the 50m freestyle swimmer, had concluded her second Olympic appearance on July 30 after she set a new National Record and PB with a non-advancing time of 25.74 to place 2nd in her heat of the qualifying round. The result positioned her 34/81 in the 50 Free and identified her as the top female Caribbean athlete in the event.