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Tell me why Anton is absent?


VINCENT C. SIMMONS

Tell me why Anton is absent?

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I WATCHED THE iconic athletics awards ceremony with great interest and a certain measure of joy and nostalgia, but I did not expect shock, which came when I did not see or hear the name Anton E. Norris.

We are celebrating our 50th year of Independence and I expected more appreciation for the sporting architects of our Independence. It was the prowess of our (West Indies) cricket that drove our confidence to chart and plan our own strategies for Independence in the region during the early 60s (for example, tours of Australia, 1960 – 1961; England, 1963).

It was during this time that Anton “Hank” Norris made Barbados proud on the world stage in athletics, specifically the high jump. What made him so special was that he used a style that was already obsolete. Competing at those heights using the “scissors” style was akin to competing in a formula one race with a 1000 Morris Minor. What he did with his Morris Minor at these major events was:

1959-1967: National Athlete [high jumper]

West Indies Championships –  one bronze medal (1959)

British Empire & Commonwealth Games – two bronze medals (1962 & 1966)

Central American & Caribbean Games  – two silver medals (1962 & 1966)

Pan American Games – one bronze medal (1963)

Caribbean Championships – one silver medal (1965)

It is noted with interest the names of the 25 people identified as sports icons in Barbados. The two major categories are athletics and cricket, with six and five awardees respectively. Of the six athletes, only four have medalled in the top tiers of international competition. Two of the athletes named have not medalled at this level. What does iconic mean: something or someone that is timeless or eternal; an example of sustained commitment; beating the odds; a symbol of culture or nation?

The seeds of international athletics competition for Barbados were sown in the 1960s, the decade of  Independence. The absence of some of the successful athletes of that era from among the 25 identified icons is indeed glaring.

– VINCENT C. SIMMONS

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