St. Lucian Women Get It Good!
(8 June 2000) - If you've never seen a St. Lucian woman bat, you ought to. By the time you read this, the national women's cricket team should be preparing for the West Indies Women's Cricket Federation knockout final, a mere seventy-two hours after securing a third-consecutive lease on the regional league title. If you're in St. Lucia, get to the Mindoo Philip Park to see the most successful St. Lucian team in modern times.
Under Verena Felicien and her vice-captain Eugena Gregg, this side has enjoyed a measure of success almost unmatched in St. Lucian sports. Their dominance was evident even as they excelled in hosting the largest WIWCF tournament ever. Victories over little-fancied Grenada, Dominica and the debutants from St. Vincent and the Grenadines were predictable enough, and our Lucian ladies duly delivered, winning by 59 runs, 8 wickets and 103 runs respectively over those three opponents. Trinidad and Tobago were meant to be a tougher nut to crack, coming in with a young, talented side, eager to upset the champions. Verena's ladies beat T&T by eight wickets, knocking off a target of 62 runs in double quick time. Clinching the title after beating joint pre-tournament favorites Jamaica by 81 runs was made all the sweeter by intermittent showers that threatened to put a stop to play on Wednesday. In that victory over Jamaica, and throughout the WIWCF tournament, our national captain has embodied leadership, composure and grace. Verena views an interview, not as an interpolation, but as just recognition of her position, recognition too that she's out there representing the people, and the people want to hear from her. They'll usually hear something sensible, too. After all, Verena is the captain of the West Indies, and we know that these days West Indian skippers are articulate folk. Of the league victory, Verena says "it was a team effort, everybody had their part to play. Even though I stayed around to the end, it was important for us to play as a unit." Looking forward to this weekend's knockout phase, the skipper is confident: "If we maintain the same team spirit as we did in the round robin competition, we should be victorious." Presumably, we'll have the story on another cricket success next week.
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You Only Live Ponce
- So the Amateur Athletics Association is sending a team to the Frankie Colon Memorial Track and Field Meet this weekend in Ponce, Puerto Rico: eight athletes, along with coach Gregory Lubin and manager Andrew Magloire. The all-male team will be concentrating on qualifying for next September's Sydney Olympics in individual events and relays. But, of course, there's a twist to the story. Call it a contemporary, domestic version of Hasely Crawford versus Donald Currie. First, Ronald Promesse, entering his prime as a sprinter, 25 years old and hitting career bests that put him among the best in the world. He's the fastest human ever born in St. Lucia, and this year he graduates from the University of Texas el Paso. If there's such a thing, this Olympic veteran from Vieux Fort is team captain. His deputy, though, has a lot to prove. Dennery's Edmund Estephane has, almost literally, had a running war with the AAA. Recently, he reflected that he might never be invited to represent St. Lucia again. That would have been a shame, since he's only lost once on St. Lucian soil. Ever year there's a new challenger, a new pretender to the throne, but the 31-year-old alum of South Dakota State University just soldiers on, beating them time and again. Now they're his teammates. Promesse. Estephane. They are different, but they are the same, because their shared desire is to eke every iota of speed from their frames. On the international stage, the younger man is the more experienced, the apogee of his career being the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. What Estephane could have contributed at those Games, we'll never know. Hopefully, we'll find out soon whether he still has something to offer. At Ponce, Promesse also gets a chance to meet the next generation of St. Lucian track and field. Miguel Lambert, national 800m record-holder and a soon-to-be alumnus of Georgetown University, has joined Ronald on the St. Lucian team before, to last year's Central American and Caribbean Games in Barbados. At the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Junior Sportsman of the Year Damian Henville was with Promesse, Dominic Johnson and Emile John as they reset the 4x100m relay record. Nathan Justin, another Southern rocket, recently won all three sprints at National Championships, breaking the national 200m junior record after a strong Junior CARIFTA outing in Grenada. Beryl Harris (another one from the South) was running neck and neck with Lambert during his sophomore season at Maryland's Coppin State College. The final two in the reckoning are on the side mainly for their experience in the relays. Jeremie Richardson and Nigel Leonce are members of the Mercury Track and Field Club - to which Henville also belongs - that has dominated the relay scene for years now. All in all, the team is an intriguing mix. Yes, there are no women; the likes of Gimry Lewis, Nicholas Matty and Maxim Charlemagne would be justified if they felt hard done by; but the combined age and experience of the team leaders, Promesse and Estephane, ought to give the AAA justification enough for this journey. Here's hoping the trip also give the Association a selection dilemma ahead of Sydney.
PONCE UPDATE: Ronald Promesse took gold in the 100m event, running it in 10.46 seconds. Miguel Lambert also did St. Lucia proud by winning the 800m.
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Sombre Shadow on Fun in the Sun
(5 June 2000) - Not many people remember that Malik Sealy - a swingman for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves - was supposed to have been in St. Lucia last year. His visit was to have been coordinated by a number of agencies including the Department of Youth and Sports, but it never came off for a number of reasons. Just about six months later, just as he was once finalizing plans to travel to St. Lucia, those plans were permanently interrupted, as he passed away after a vehicular accident.
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And so it turns out that the event for which he was to have traveled to these shores is no longer the Malik Sealy Celebrity Golf Tournament. Instead, it's the Malik Sealy Memorial. The tournament is organised in part by the Multicultural Golf Association of America and Caribbean Golf Association, with promotional assistance from Bridges and Citi Entertainment Group, whose front-woman is St. Lucian Sharon Brown. The promotional literature promises that Kevin Garnett, Charles Oakley, Savion Glover and other sport and entertainment stars will be here for some fun in the sun (and on the links). Hyatt Regency St. Lucia is one of the main event sponsors, and several of the participants will stay there.
The brand new eighteen-hole championship course at the St. Lucia Golf and Country Club will play host to the Sealy Memorial 22-25 June. Tim Mangal, the Club's head professional, says there was some uncertainty surrounding the event after Sealy passed. Confirmation that the tournament would go ahead came just days ago, and the Club has been left scrambling to put together the best tournament it can.
"Now that the course is completed, we needed to do something to promote it locally, regionally and internationally. Sharon was Sealy's friend, and she came up with a tournament of which he would be the host." The man may be gone, but his name stays with us. Proceeds from the Sealy Celebrity tournament will benefit charities including the St. Lucia Save the Children Fund. One of the big draws for the event will be the presence of American basketball star Garnett, Sealy's teammate in Minnesota. A basketball clinic will be part of the Malik Sealy tournament, and there will, of course, be some exposure to the game for potential young golfers.
The Ghosts of Muscles Past
(5 June 2000) - It's been a while since Raymond Daniel graced the stage. At one time the captain of St. Lucia's national bodybuilding team, Daniel suffered moreso than most, from the dearth of events on the local calendar over the past two years. He plugged away in silence, missing the glare of the bright lights at the Eastern Caribbean, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, the Central American and Caribbean Championships. After two years in limbo, though, he made it back to nirvana by winning the first muscle show for 2000 Sunday last.
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Known as the Ghost, Daniel defeated the experienced trio of Martin Pinel, "Sugarbaby" Marius Alcide and former junior champion Shaun Delice in the middle, light heavy and heavyweight combined division of Sunday's Post-Independence Bodybuilding Classic. Competition in that division was fairly well balanced, and the performances were consistent and strong. That was not the case in the light and bantamweight combined class, where courageous veteran Winston Spooner and virtual novice St. George Prospere took a back seat to Alphonsus Joseph and eventual winner Lawrence "Robocop" Stephens. In the final pose-down, mysticism beat out technology as Daniel took the main trophy.
Thanks in great measure to the verbose talent of Edmund Sidonie (master of ceremonies for the Classic and past president of the Bodybuilding Association) the exhibition of deltoids, abs and quads became instead a history lesson. We were reminded, after two years in absentia, that the sport has a rich and vibrant tradition on the island. Although he may have been doing it just to kill time, Sidonie did well to conjure up the past, recalling such excellent athletes as Rick Wayne, the Sandiford brothers, Robert and Earl, Joseph Spooner and Rolandson Auguste. Then there are coaches and administrators like Sidonie himself, his brother Cornelius, Alleyne Duncan and a host of others.
The more recent fortunes of St. Lucian posing have been built on the broad, ripped back of Julian Felix. Mr. Everything has won every amateur title save for the World Championships, and he's gunning for that one this year. On the basis of his form as a guest performer last weekend, he can't be underestimated. Breaking into an impromptu jig when the tempo of his music changed without warning, Julian exuded confidence. As he's done for the past three years - during which time he's twice been Sportsman of the Year - he looks the total package.
Under the brief leadership of Gilbert Spooner, it seems the Association is indeed prepared to build on that package, mooting a plan to take the sport to schools and communities islandwide. Evidence of their commitment was there aplenty on Sunday. A fair crowd (better than at most local track meets) was on hand, responding to the radio and tv campaign promoting the Classic. Sponsors were evinced by product after product, handed over to the various contestants by a smiling Felix. That's about all he's likely to hand over anytime soon, unless you count a sterling account of himself and of St. Lucian bodybuilding.
Blasse and Co for OECS TT Champs
(9 June 2000) - Chermaine Blasse (you may recognise her as a member of the national football team as well) is defending ladies open singles champion in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Table Tennis Championships. This weekend she's in Grenada with Robertina Cyril and Charmaine Polius to vie for that title again.
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Also in the spice isle are Christopher St. Louis (SMC 1990 and the General Secretary of the Table Tennis Association) Carlos Innocent, Chris Wells, Adrian Albert and the inexperienced but talented Franklyn Noel.
Faith Stanislaus is coach of the national team, and the manager is TTA president Guy Cabrera.
Jets Kings of the Courts
(5 June 2000) - Courts Jets are winners of the inaugural Guinness Showtime Five-on-Five Basketball Tournament. Playing at the Ciceron Multipurpose Court on Sunday, Jets won it weird. Going up against a team of Samarians calling themselves the Mad Yout, the Jets were up 17-7 when a Mad Yout sustained a serious injury, bringing a halt to the game. I'll bet that's never happened to the Lakers.
Fourteen teams registered for the tournament.
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