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.

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.

Kyron McMaster qualifies for the 400m Hurdles finals at Tokyo 2020

Embed from Getty Images

Adding to the exciting action of the day on August 1, Kyron McMaster joined teammate, long jumper Chantel Malone in making history when he won his heat in the 400m hurdles semifinals with a time of 48.26 to automatically qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic event finals.

“I got to the warm-up track ahead of the race and just zoned in and went through the normal routine. Coach Lennox and I had agreed that once I got to the race the plan was solely to run to get into the finals rather than to try and run hard, and we accomplished that goal. Now it’s just to rest and get the body tuned up and get ready for the finals,” said McMaster.

McMaster became the first male athlete of the territory and second national athlete to advance to an Olympic final after Malone’s performance earlier in the day. He is also the first athlete to win individual event heats at the Olympics.

“The goal is not finished just yet,” said McMaster. “We are on the homestretch and it’s just to complete the race by getting on the line and giving my best!”

The BVI delegation, which includes Ephraim Penn, President of the BVI Olympic Committee, Lloyd Black, Secretary General, Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission, Team Coach Winston Potter and McMaster’s personal Coach Lennox Graham were in the stands to watch the semi-finals.

“While we were not surprised to see Kyron cross the line first, we were no less excited about the result. Kyron is a fighter and there is no way that he would not have done whatever he needed to do to make it into the finals. We are very proud of his success,” said Penn. “To have athletes competing in the finals at an Olympic Games is a plan that has been in the making since the BVIOC’s Quadrennial goals of 2012 and to witness it happening at Tokyo 2020 with 2 of our successful senior track and field athletes who are Olympic Scholarship recipients is very thrilling and we can’t wait to watch their closing performances.”

The 400m hurdles finals takes place on Tuesday, August 3 at 12:20pm JST (11:20pm, Monday, August 2 BVI time) when McMaster will race in lane 4 against the world’s top 3 hurdlers including world record holder Karsten Warholm (Norway), Rai Benjamin (USA) and Alison dos Santos (Brazil).

Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, MHA. Deputy Premier Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture arrived into Japan a day before the finals to witness the historic occasion.

McMaster’s Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 was preceded with a short but successful season where he set a new National Record and PB when he ran a time of 47.50 at the USA Track and Field Golden Games, Walnut, California in May 2021.

A two-times Diamond League Champion and ranked number 4 by World Athletics, McMaster made major history for the BVI when he won the Territory’s first Commonwealth Games medal when he was 21 years old with a 48.25 first-place finish at the Gold Coast 2018 Games in Australia. He is also set new event records for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games at Barranquilla 2018 and for the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships at Toronto 2018.

Malone, who secured her spot in the long jump finals with an automatic qualifying mark of 6.82m in the Qualifying round, will also compete on Tuesday, August 3 at 10:50am (9:50pm Monday, August 2 BVI time). Elinah Phillip, the 50m freestyle swimmer, wrapped up her 2nd Olympic appearance on July 30 after she set a new National Record and PB with a non-advancing time of 25.74 in her heat of the qualifying round. The result ranks her top female Caribbean athlete in the event.

Chantel Malone advances to long jump finals at Tokyo 2020

Chantel Malone after qualifying for the long jump finals on August 1 at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games

Chantel Malone made history for the British Virgin Islands once more when she qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games long jump finals with a distance of 6.82m achieved on her 3rd attempt at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Sunday, August 1.

“I’m excited and happy to be going into the finals with a 6.82- especially as I had to take some time off ahead of the Games to work on recovering from an injury that I sustained at a meet at the beginning of July,” said Malone. “Jumping an 82 was the reassurance I needed and is a testament to my growth as an athlete just because the old me would have folded after the first two bad jumps, but today, I reminded myself that it only takes one and to execute it.”

Malone became the first athlete of the territory to advance to an Olympic final.

“I may be the first athlete to make it to the finals but honestly, that’s always been the goal and to actually be on that podium. The goal is to execute and hopefully we will be good but it’s a tough field out there with a lot of automatic qualifiers, so I just have to bring my A-Game and stay focused.”

Ephraim Penn, President of the BVI Olympic Committee was watching the event from the Olympic Family tribune along with Secretary General Lloyd Black.

“We were so excited when Chantel not only qualified for the finals, but that she managed to hit a distance beyond the automatic qualifying mark of 6.75,” said Penn. “The BVIOC and family of National Federations congratulate Chantel and her coach, Dwight Phillips on this achievement and we are looking forward to Tuesday’s event and to cheering her on in support of the goal for a podium finish.”

Tokyo 2020 is Malone’s first Olympics which she qualified for when she leapt a distance of 7.08 at the Florida International “Pro Addition” International Track Meet, Miramar in March 2021. The mark was a new National Record and a Season and Personal Best for the athlete who is ranked number 8 by World Athletics.

Malone’s history-making flair was demonstrated when she won the BVI’s first PanAm Games medal when she took the gold at Lima 2019 with a leap of 6.68m.

The finals take place on Tuesday, August 3 at 10:50am (9:50pm, Monday, August 2 BVI time).

Kyron McMaster, will compete in the 400m hurdles semi-finals later today after he won his qualifying heat with a time of 48.79 on Friday, July 30. Elinah Phillip, the 50m freestyle swimmer, wrapped up her 2nd Olympic appearance on July 30 after she set a new National Record and PB with a non-advancing time of 25.74 in her heat of the qualifying round. The result ranks her top female Caribbean athlete in the event.

Phillip sets new 50m Freestyle National Record & McMaster advances to 400m Hurdle semi finals at Tokyo 2020

Elinah Phillip, of British Virgin Islands, swims in a women’s 50-meter freestyle heat at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Elinah Phillip set a new National Record and PB when she placed 2nd in her 50m Freestyle Heat with a non-advancing time of 25.74 at the Tokyo Aquatic Center, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games the evening of July 30, 2021.

The time is an automatic qualifier for the upcoming FINA Worlds and ranks Elinah as the Caribbean’s top female 50m freestyle athlete. It also improves her standing in the inaugural PanAm Junior Games slated to be held at the end of this year.

Earlier in the day, Kyron McMaster made national history when he advanced to the semi-finals in the 400m hurdles at his Olympic debut to become the first male athlete to compete in an Olympic semi and the only athlete to win an individual event heat. He joins Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, to become the 2nd athlete to compete in a semi-final event at an Olympic Games. Kyron will race in Heat 3 Lane 7 on August 1.

Competing in her second Olympics, Elinah – who was also the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony – was very excited and proud of the result which positions her 34th out of 81 competitors.

“It’s a big day for me – I finished my pre dentistry summer program at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and came and set a new National Record and PB at the Olympics,” said the 21-year old swimmer. “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed because this achievement means so much to me personally after a very turbulent 2020. I am very grateful for all the support that I have received from my family, the BVI Olympic Committee, FIU, my swim coach Brien Moffitt and my teammates and everyone back home. I can’t express how much it means to me.”

Watching from the Olympic Family tribune were President of the BVIOC Ephraim Penn, Secretary General Lloyd Black and Chef de Mission Tahesia Harrigan-Scott.

“Elinah’s performance this evening has impressed us all and made us incredibly proud,” said Penn. “On behalf of the BVIOC and our member federations, I congratulate Elinah on her achievement and thank her for giving 110% and doing us proud. I also would like to recognize her coach, Brien Moffitt who has demonstrated a sound appreciation for Elinah’s potential and who, in just a few months, has helped her to achieve great results and outperform herself every time.”

A swim coach at FIU, Coach Moffitt was responsible for recruiting the 21-year old to the University as part of its longterm commitment to developing a strong swimming team.

“I am so very proud of Elinah’s accomplishment today and, to be able to be at her best at the biggest sporting stage that there is, is something that shows her resilience and mental fortitude,” said Coach Moffitt. ”When you look at the path and journey she has taken to get to this point it’s very remarkable. We’re grateful and happy with what the results today but we will be coming back to work after a short and plan to aim higher and dream bigger.”

Elinah is the BVI’s leading national swimmer, holding records in the 50, 100, and 200m freestyle and the 50m butterfly. She made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016. She is the first swimmer and the youngest athlete to represent the BVI at an Olympic Games.

Ranked number 8 in her event by World Athletics, Chantel Malone will make her Olympic debut when she competes in the Tokyo 2020 long jump Qualification round on August 1.

BVI showcases colours of the BVI at Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony

Flag bearers Elinah Phillip (50m freestyle) Kyron McMaster (400m hurdler) and Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission.represented the British Virgin Islands at the Opening Ceremony to mark the start of the long-awaited Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23, 2021

A delegation of three represented the British Virgin Islands at the Opening Ceremony to mark the start of the long-awaited Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23, 2021. Elinah Phillip, the 50m freestyle swimmer was the flag bearer and led ahead of Kyron McMaster (400m hurdler) and Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission.

“This has been a long wait with many challenges but we all are finally here. it is exciting. Our athletes are prepared and focused, the energy levels are up and we are ready to go!” said Harrigan-Scott.

Phillip and McMaster in turn described their emotional state as being excited and euphoric and were looking forward to getting inside the Olympic Stadium to experience the atmosphere and to see the venue ahead of the competitions.

Chantel Malone (long jump) who completes the team of 3 for the 32nd Olympiad, landed in Tokyo in the late afternoon of July 23 along with the rest of the BVI’s delegation to include Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC, Lloyd Black, Secretary General and Winston Potter, Team Coach. Swimming coach Brien Moffitt arrived with Phillip on July 18.

“While I was unable to attend the Opening Ceremony in person due to travel delays, I was able to watch our delegation walk into the Olympic Stadium with the flag held high and proud,” said Penn. “These are unusual times and we are entering a new era of Olympic Games. We have a special team that has the full support of the BVIOC and our nation and we are definitely looking forward to their competitions next week.”

The 28th nation to march into the Olympic Stadium, the 3 representatives wore outfits designed by Rhenique Cooper and Ruth Frazer of the BVI and which incorporated the Territory’s colours and traditional dress in a modern design.

“The inspiration behind this design was our original BVI traditional dress. I wanted to take elements of the puff sleeves and the big skirt and modernize it into a dress that a BVIslander of today could wear. Thus, making the skirt tiered and shorter gave it the same effect of being full without feeling weighed down. This is will be my first time designing for the BVI Olympic Committee and I’m very excited. I’m grateful to have this opportunity and it feels very surreal,” said Cooper.

Kristin Frazer, who designed the mask, project managed the production of the Opening Ceremony wear. The men’s button-down shirt and jacket were designed by her mother, Ruth Frazer.

The Opening Ceremony typically is a high demand event where the host nation presents an exceptional performance choreographed to showcase its history, culture, and innovation and to tell a story that reflects its values and that of its Olympic legacy. For Tokyo 2020, the occasion was more subdued than usual with COVID-19 protocol restrictions limiting attendance. Observing the continuous message for delivering a “safe games”, the athlete delegations representing the 206 participating nations marching into the stadium were also smaller in number than in previous editions. There were approximately 6,000 athletes and team officials, 900 Games stakeholders and guests of honour and 3,500 broadcasters and press.

At 11:15pm (JST) His Majesty the Emperor of Japan declared the Games of Tokyo, celebrating the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era open. The Games will proceed with the new Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together” announced by the IOC on July 20.

A total of 11,091 athletes are expected to compete in 33 sports and 339 events at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. The BVI’s athletes will compete in 2 sports and 3 events with the following dates and times (adjusted for the BVI) for each of their first round of competitions: McMaster, 400m hurdles heat 1 – 9:55 pm, Thursday, July 29; Elinah Phillip, 50m freestyle heats – 6:00 am, Friday, July 30; Malone long jump qualifying round – 8:50pm, Saturday, July 31. This will be the first Olympics for McMaster and Malone and the second for Phillip who made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016 in Brazil at 16 years of age. She was the BVI’s youngest athlete and first swimmer to compete at an Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games will be broadcast live on NBC with daily team reports and updates from the BVIOC on its social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by Dean Greenaway on ZROD 103.7 and CBN 90.9FM.

BVIOC Presents Team for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games

Team IVB for Tokyo 2020

The Virgin Islands (UK) Team for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games is today confirmed by the BVI Olympic Committee and Chef de Mission, Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott to include two track and field athletes and one swimmer. Kyron McMaster will compete in the men’s 400m hurdles and Chantel Malone will compete in the women’s long jump. Swimmer Elinah Phillip will compete in the women’s 50m freestyle. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games take place in Japan July 23 – August 8, 2021.

McMaster and Phillip will be the flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony on July 23. The athletes will be in clothing and masks respectively designed by Virgin Islanders Ms. Rhenique Cooper and Ms. Kristin Fraser.

This will be the first Olympic Games for McMaster and Malone while Phillip made her Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil where she was the VI’s youngest athlete and the first to represent the Territory in aquatics at any Olympics.

While Olympian Eldred Henry had an automatic qualification to compete in the shot put at Tokyo 2020, ongoing recovery from an injury in his throwing arm resulted in the decision to step down from the team.

“I am proud to present our athletes for Tokyo 2020,” said Chef Harrigan-Scott, a three times Olympian in the 100m sprint. “Even though COVID-19 has drastically changed the dynamics of the Olympic Games, it did not waiver the determination or drive of our brilliant athletes. They have prepared vigorously to represent the Virgin Islands in their respective events coming up in the next few weeks and, after communicating with each of the athletes and watching their preparatory competitions leading up to Tokyo 2020, I am confident that they will make these Virgin Islands proud.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Tokyo 2020 Games to be rescheduled by one year to take place in the summer of 2021, the IOC, Tokyo 2020 Organisers and the Government of Japan have issued stringent protocols set out in regularly updated Playbooks to ensure the health and safety of all athletes, personnel, delegates, media and the people of Japan. The strict measures for the VI delegation are overseen by appointed COVID Liaison Officers (CLOs) BVIOC Secretary General Mr. Lloyd Black and Chef Harrigan-Scott.

The Chef de Mission highlighted how the response to the pandemic has differentiated Tokyo 2020 from previous Olympic Games. Precautions include restrictive movement of the delegation, strict COVID-19 counter measures which include daily temperature and COVID-19 testing, the inability to attend other sporting events, limited-to-no guest allowance in the Olympic Village, the lack of spectators from foreign countries, no site seeing by the delegation and every movement in Tokyo and Japan needing to be pre-approved by the Japanese Government.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games probably are one of the most anticipated Games in sports,” said Mr. Penn. “The continuing changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have been quite a challenge and on behalf of the BVIOC, I highly commend all our athletes and Chef de Mission for their focus, determination and tireless efforts which have resulted in thorough preparation and impressive performances with new national records set in all three disciplines by Chantel, Kyron and Elinah in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games. We are sad that Eldred will not be joining the team in person but intend to include him in our reports from Tokyo 2020. We are extremely proud of all our athletes have achieved thus far and will be in Japan to give our support and to watch them perform at the 32nd Olympiad.”

The delegation to Tokyo will include BVIOC President Mr. Ephraim Penn, Secretary General Mr. Lloyd Black, athlete coaches Mr. Lennox Graham (McMaster), Mr. Dwight Phillipe (Malone), Mr. Brien Moffitt (Phillip) and Mr. Winston Potter (team coach). Dr. The Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley MHA, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture is also slated to attend the Games pending travel restrictions.

“I want to congratulate these hardworking individuals for this momentous achievement. It is even more exciting knowing that we have athletes, through their hard work, who are poised to compete for medal and I plan to be there to cheer them along waving our Virgin Islands flag. I wish all our athletes well; we are extremely proud of you!” said the Dr. The Honourable Minister Wheatley.

Daily updates will be posted on the BVIOC social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and reports will be disseminated to media from the BVIOC PRO, Sofia Fay, Broadsword Communications, who will be in Tokyo to cover the VI’s athletes.

iFOREX partners with BVI Olympic Committee to support National Team’s journey to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

iFOREX – a leading global financial broker with offices in the BVI – announced its partnership with the British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee (BVIOC) and will act as sponsors of the Virgin Islands (UK) Olympic team on its journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

A spokesperson for Formula Investment House Ltd, operator of the www.iFOREX.com website, said: “As a company licensed in the British Virgin Islands, we have first-hand awareness of the spirit and potential of this exceptional team and we are proud and excited to support the athletes in their remarkable efforts to bring home the Territory’s first Olympic medal.”

So far, those who have qualified include Kyron McMaster in the Men’s 400m Hurdles, Eldred Henry in the Men’s Shot Put, and Chantel Malone in the Women’s Long Jump.

It is believed that the partnership marks the first occasion an investment firm has sponsored a National Olympic Committee and iFOREX joins athletic brand PUMA as one of the BVIOC’s two official sponsors.

For over 25 years, iFOREX has remained one of the largest and most respected firms in the Fintech industry, emerging early on as an industry leader in technological innovation and with a dedication to trust and excellence.

“By lining up with PUMA, known for its history of performance and athletic support, we’re proud to help the BVI’s athletes to represent their country with devotion and determination,” said an iFOREX spokesperson.

Throughout the sponsorship, iFOREX will show its support for the BVI Olympic Team with online content chronicling the team’s journey from their training camps to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as the team’s results, which will be available to both clients and staff all over the world at iFOREX News.

Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC commented on the partnership, saying: “The BVI Olympic Committee is very happy that a respectable and successful investment firm such as iFOREX has identified the potential of the BVI team for Tokyo 2020. We have a strong line up of athletes for these Games so far and the additional support is very much appreciated as the athletes prepare to bring their best performance to Japan continuing to make us very proud as a nation.”

BVIOC secures IOC approval for Territorial Song to be played at Olympic Games and other institutional events

British Virgin Islands Kyron Mcmaster won the men’s 400m hurdles final in a time of 48.25 seconds during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on April 12, 2018. It was the Virgin Islands’ first medal at a Commonwealth Games and was the impetus for the BVI Olympic Committee’s request to have the Territorial Song, “Oh Beautiful Virgin Islands” registered by the International Olympic Committee to be played at sporting events rather than the National Anthem, “God Save the Queen”. The IOC confirmed the change in May 2020. .Photo credit: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Marking another historic moment in sports for the Virgin Islands, the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) received approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the Territorial Song, “Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands” to be played at future editions of the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games and other institutional events and official activities of the IOC and its Affiliated Entities. The permission was confirmed by the IOC via email sent on May 7, 2020 after the BVIOC started the process for approval in 2018.

“The BVIOC is exceptionally proud to attain this milestone not just for our nation but for our athletes, their coaches, parents and supporters,” said Mr. Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC. “The motivation and emotion that is tied up in representing your country at a major competition can’t be underestimated. Hearing your national song playing as you enter an arena or when you stand on the podium enhances the sense of achievement and pride and underscores all the sacrifices, time and effort that athletes, teams and their support base put in to qualify and compete.”

Prior to this date, the national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, was played at major regional and international competitions and events during opening, closing and medal ceremonies to acknowledge the participation and podium finishes of the VI’s athletes and teams.

The BVIOC launched the process for approval at the urging of the former Minister for Education and Culture, Mr. Myron Walwyn who enquired about the possibility after Mr. Kyron McMaster’s historic gold medal win in the 400m Hurdles on April 12, 2018 at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The emotional occasion was made all the more poignant for it happening just 6 months after the devastation wreaked in the VI by Hurricane Irma and the tragic passing of McMaster’s mentor and national track and field coach, Mr. Xavier “Dag” Samuels. At that time, it became clear that the Territorial Song, which speaks to the VI’s national pride and identity, would have been the ideal accompaniment to the flag raising and medal ceremony.

Further noting that the VI was one of the few nations that did not have its national song approved to be played at major sporting events, Penn made the inquiries and acted on the requirements to change the anthem registered with the IOC from the National Anthem to the Territorial Song.

The initiative was closely followed and encouraged by Dr. The Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, the current Minister for Education and Culture, and the BVIOC was able to secure the support required from the Government of the Virgin Islands to initiate the official request. The BVIOC worked with the Ministry of Education and Culture to “be duly authorized and/or licensed to use and to authorise and/or sublicense the use of the Territorial Song,” as set out in the IOC’s National Anthem Authorisation document.

“Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands” originally was composed in 2012 by Virgin Islanders, Ms. Ayana Hull and her brother, Mr. Kareem Nelson Hull in response to a competition for a Territorial Song launched by Walwyn, the then Minister for Education and Culture. The song, which was originally arranged by Mr. Howard John, was officially adopted as the Territorial Song by resolution of the House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands on July 24, 2012. As a British Overseas Territory “God Save the Queen” is the VI’s official national anthem.

The rousing, 80-second, orchestral version of the Territorial Song, requested by the BVIOC and approved by the Ministry for use by the IOC, was arranged by Mr. Alton Bertie, an Elmore Stoutt High School alumnus who graduated in the field of Film Scoring and Song Writing from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.

Click to listen to the score for the Territorial Song by Mr. Alton Bertie.