2014 marks Golden Anniversary of The Bahamas’ first Olympic gold

by: Fred Sturrup, Sports Scope

This year (based on the events that will become very closely connected to The Bahamas and its sporting fraternity) could very well go down as one of the most significant in the history of this country. In yesterday’s column in this space, the wide variety of sports events on schedule for 2014 was detailed.

There is another milestone of note that readers are invited to reflect upon, in 2014. We go down memory lane today, to 50 years ago. 

Indeed, another big aspect of 2014 is the fact that this year marks the golden anniversary of the first gold medal won at the Olympics by The Bahamas.

It’s incredible, but yes, it’s a half of a century since Durward Knowles as skipper, and Cecil Cooke as his crew member, captured the Star Class gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. 

The games took place in October of 1964. Although Tokyo was the official host city in Japan, with the Olympics, other cities are included as locations for certain disciplines. 

This was so in 1964 and in Japan, it was decided that an Olympic yachting harbor would be constructed. The work began in 1961, and in time for the games, the Sagami Bay in Enoshima was ready for Knowles, Cooke and the rest of the best international sailors the world over, at the time. 

The cost was $6,027,778.

There they were, our representatives, Knowles and Cooke in the Star Class craft Gem, carrying the participation number 4789. 

At the end of the competition, the pair had performed in a manner to make history for the tiny country called The Bahama Islands, still under the jurisdiction of Great Britain. 

It was The Bahamas’ first, followed by the United States (Richard Sterns and Lynn Williams); and Sweden (Pelle Pettersson and Holger Sundstrom). 

For the international sailing establishment in The Bahamas, success against the finest sailors in the world was nothing new.

Knowles with Sloane Farrington had achieved the first national sporting milestone of great prominence 17 years earlier when they won the Star Class World Championship. 

Also, the same duo, Knowles and Farrington, had given The Bahamas its first Olympic medal, a bronze at the Melbourne, Australia Games of 1956.

Accordingly in 1964, Knowles was without a doubt at the very top echelon of international sailing in the world, so, the win was not a surprise in that circle. 

For The Bahamas though, the stage was officially set and the planks were put in place for the country’s anointment as one of the most powerful little nations in the sports world.

It would be another 36 years before The Bahamas won another Olympic gold medal and the occasion would be with the flag of an independent nation flying in the stadium in Sydney, Australia. 

The Original Golden Girls (Pauline Davis, Chandra Sturrup, Sevatheda Fynes, Debbie Ferguson and Eldece Clarke) won the sprint gold medal in track at the 2000 Olympics. 

Years later, following the banning of American Marion Jones and the long administrative and legal procedures, the second place finisher for the 200 meters in 2000, our very own Pauline Davis, was awarded the gold medal.

In 2004, the diminutive but powerful Tonique Williams-Darling captured the 400 meters gold in Athens, Greece. 

In 2012, the Golden Knights (Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller) dominated the 1,600 meters relay series for the gold medal, in London, England. 

What Knowles and Cooke started 50 years ago, heightened the reputation of The Bahamas in world sports. 

Today, The Bahamas is a definite gold medal contender, whenever the Olympics roll around.

(To respond to this sports feature, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at

(Published Saturday, January 18, 2014)

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