Beginning October 12, the outstanding achievements of Bahamian athletes who competed in the Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing will be celebrated, announced Youth, Sports and Culture Minister the Hon. Desmond Bannister as he addressed the Southeast Rotary Club’s luncheon meeting Wednesday.

Minister Bannister said, “All of the athletes will be home and we anticipate that the celebrations will bring quite a festive air to the country.”

The Minister added that because of the athletes’ interest in ongoing hurricane relief efforts in the southeast Bahamas, they will participate in rallies to be held in Inagua and Mayaguana.

Minister Bannister told Rotarians that the Olympic success that The Bahamas celebrates today is not a “flash in the pan”. He presented a chronology of relay achievements by male and female Bahamian athletes and said despite his long involvement in sports, it is inconceivable to him that a country with a population of 330,000 people could achieve “such monumental success against the world of sports.”

“What is more astounding,” said the Minister, “is that such major success has come in relay events for a country which has a population that could not fill the ‘Birds Nest’ for four nights.”

Despite the country’s success, the Sports Minister said The Bahamas is only reaching the shallow portion of its national talent pool. “There are many other diamonds in the rough throughout our islands who can be developed to be world champions and Olympic champions …” he said.

Minister Bannister outlined five initiatives by the Government he said are critical to the Bahamas’ continued sporting success: a subvention programme to assist athletes with training and medical expenses, the $2 million endowment for sports, the concept of a Youth Bahamas Games in the upcoming years, consistently build athletic facilities, and offerring athletic scholarships at the College of The Bahamas beginning January 2009.

“. . . People all over the world are fascinated with our Olympic success, and we believe all Bahamians should have an opportunity to take part in it. We also believe that we have a duty to prepare our young people to continue the rich legacy which they are inheriting in sports,” said Minister Bannister.