Bahamian Youth Olympic Sailor To Carry Flag In Honour Of Sir Durward Knowles
16 AUGUST 2014, 08:06 AM
2014 Youth Olympic Games
Byte CII sailor Paul de Souza will carry the Bahamian flag at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on 16 August to honour the 50th anniversary of Sir Durward Knowles taking the nation's first ever Olympic gold.
The 15-year-old will lead the 14-strong Bahamas team that features athletes in athletics, swimming and tennis but the eyes will firmly be on sailing's de Souza at the front of the pack.
"I'm very excited because I'm the flag bearer from the Bahamas because it's the 50th anniversary since Sir Durward Knowles won a gold medal in the Star class so they decided to pick me as the flag carrier just to honour that," explained de Souza.
"I couldn't be any happier about it," said de Souza with a beaming smile. "I'm almost speechless and I'm really proud of myself and my country that we all made it to this event. We're all from a small country and there are so many people here who come from countries with millions and we're a country of thousands. I'm pretty proud to be able to carry the flag and represent my country.
"He's a Bahamian hero to a lot of people because he was our first gold medallist ever and a lot of people look up to him. A lot of buildings have been named after him and he's pretty important in our culture."
Knowles and Cecil Cooke took the Bahamas first Olympic gold medal on 23 October 1964 at the Tokyo Olympic Sailing Competition in the Star class. Fifty years on and the Bahamas National Olympic Committee has put the spotlight on sailing. Knowles and Cooke will be honoured on the anniversary of their victory by a luncheon where the IOC will present Sir Durward with the prestigious President's Trophy - the highest honour given to athletes by the IOC. Sandra Cooke, the daughter of Cecil Cooke, will receive the trophy on behalf of her late father.
Representatives from the International Olympic Committee, International Sailing Federation (ISAF), Japanese Olympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation are expected to attend.
Knowles took his nation's first Olympic medal at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and then eight years later picked up the first gold. In total the Bahamas NOC has five gold, two silver and five bronze medals with the foundations laid by Knowles.
In advance of de Souza heading to Nanjing for the Youth Olympic Games, Knowles gave him a few encouraging words, "A lot of times I am very modest and he said I need to be a little bit more confident in what I do and he said go out there and try your best," said de Souza.
Scheduled to start at 20:00 local time on Saturday 16 August at the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games promises to be a spectacular and unmissable affair. The IOC will be streaming the show live on its online channel, Olympic.tv, on www.olympic.org and on the official Olympic YouTube channel, with all three platforms providing coverage of all competitions from Sunday 16 August onwards.
The Youth Olympic Games brings 28 sports together in a unique multi-sport event for young athletes who are given a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in high-level sporting competitions while also engaging in a Culture and Education Programme (CEP) focused on the Olympic spirit and Olympic values, skill development, well-being and healthy lifestyle, social responsibility and expression through digital media.
At the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, Singapore 2010, Ian Barrows (ISV) and Lara Vadlau (AUT) won gold on the Boys and Girls One Person Dinghy, Byte CII, whilst Mayan Rafic (ISR) and Siripon Kaewduang-Ngam (THA) took the honours in the Boys and Girls Windsurfer, Techno 293.
The same classes will be on show at the sailing event at Nanjing 2014 and will bring 100 of the finest young sailors, aged 15-16, together on Nanjing's Jinniu Lake.
For each of the four sailing events, there are seven Youth Olympic Qualification Events (YOQE). Competitors qualify their National Olympic Committee (NOC) at a YOQE, and the NOC will then select its competitor for that event by the 8 July 2014 deadline.
The seven YOQE for each event are made up of a World Championship and six Continental Qualification Events. At the Continental Qualification Events only nations within that continent will be eligible for YOG Qualification.
Full details of the qualification system including the continental quotas in English and French are available in the full qualification system document here.