Formation of a British Virgin Islands Olympians Association and the reconstitution of the BVI Olympic Committee marked significant milestones in BVI sports as 2006 came to a close.
The BVI Olympians Association—the representative body of all 23 persons who have represented the territory in the winter and summer Olympic Games since 1984 in three sports—was formed on November 8. Nine of 11 Olympians in the territory, who represented the BVI in athletics and sailing at four of its six Olympic Games appearances, attended the meeting.
Dean ‘The Sportsman’ Greenaway, who represented the territory in athletics during the inaugural Olympic Games appearance in Los Angeles in 1984, was elected president. Joining Greenaway on the executive are: Vice President Steve Augustine, athletics, Atlanta 1996; Two-time Olympic sailor Robbie Hirst, Barcelona, 1992 and Atlanta, 1996, is the Secretary/Treasurer. Karl “Dub” Scatliffe, athletics, Barcelona 1992, is the executive committee member. BVI Olympic Committee president Rey O’Neal is the honorary president of the BVI Olympians Association.
Other BVI Olympians attending the meeting included: 1984 Los Angeles Olympians Guy Hill, athletics; and Keith Thomas and Dr. Robin Tattersall from sailing. Tattersall also attended the 1992 Games in Barcelona. In addition, 1988 Seoul Olympian, Willis “Chucky” Todman, athletics, and 1992 Barcelona Olympian John Shirley, from sailing attended. BVI Olympic Committee vice president John Lewis also witnessed the elections.
“I think this organization can serve a very useful purpose in getting the message across to young athletes and the community as a whole, as to what it means to have competed in the Olympics and what one can aspire to in that regard,” BVIOC head O’Neal said. “Certainly, it’s something that’s worth the effort and I think that the community has to give it encouragement.”
The BVI Olympians Association will spearhead the BVI’s Olympic Games legacy Project. Photographs of all 23 Olympians and their respective profiles will be produced and placed in the BVI Olympic Committee offices, as well as the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the BVI Amateur Athletics Association offices.
The following month, on December 5, Rey O’Neal was re-elected to his final stint as the BVI Olympic Committee president. O’Neal, a founding member of the BVIOC when it was established in 1980, is joined by John Lewis, 1st Vice President; Ephraim Penn, 2nd Vice President; Dean Greenaway, Secretary General; and Mark Chapman, Treasurer. Stephanie Russ Penn occupies the new post of Athlete’s Representative while David Thomas is the public relations officer, also a new post. The executive will serve for two years.
“I think it’s a strong committee. We had a number of capable people going head to head for various positions,” O’Neal noted. “Unfortunately, everyone can’t be elected, but I think there are good things ahead for the BVI Olympic Committee.”
A new constitution and a focus on youth, O’Neal said, are among his plans. He also hopes the territory has its first finalist in the next Olympic Games in Beijing, China, which he said would be he crowning glory of all the efforts. Leading up to Beijing, O’Neal said the major focus in 2007 will be the Pan American Games in Rio, Brazil and the World track and field championships in Osaka, Japan.
“At the Pan Am Games, certainly, our aim is to win a medal,” he said. “We may not, but I think it’s fairly clear that we have the potential to make finals in one or two events there and once you’re in the final, you’re in with a chance.” Taheisa Harrigan won the Central American and Caribbean Games 100 meters in Colombia last summer, in BVI women’s debut at the games.