28 JUL 2009 General News

Tribute to Thomas Augustus (Tommy) Robinson

Thomas Augustus (Tommy) Robinson (r) being presented with a framed copy of the  Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's Proclamation declaring Friday, 24 July as ‘Tommy Robinson Day’. Committee Member Sandra Smith (middle) (David Charlton)Thomas Augustus (Tommy) Robinson (r) being presented with a framed copy of the Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's Proclamation declaring Friday, 24 July as ‘Tommy Robinson Day’. Committee Member Sandra Smith (middle) (David Charlton) © Copyright

Nassau, Bahamas, Bahamian National Hero Thomas Augustus(Tommy) Robinson was saluted at a Tribute to a legend Luncheon at the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino on Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas (26).

Robinson, the premier Bahamian athlete of the twentieth century was the first Bahamian Track and Field athlete to participate in the Olympic Games. Robinson, a world class sprinter, finished fourth in the first round of the 100m and 200m at the tender age of eighteen in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956.

The following year, Robinson became the first Bahamian to win an international medal in Track and Field when he won a bronze medal in the 100m at the West Indian Federation Games in Kingston, Jamaica. The 400m relay, made up of Enoch Backford, Oscar Francis, and Tom Grant, and Robinson, also won a bronze medal.

At the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, in 1958, Robinson shocked the world in winning the 220 yard dash, while defeating Jamaica’s Keith Gardner. Robinson, who was a lone member of the Bahamas team, was second to Gardner in the 100 yards.

At the Rome Olympics in 1960 he made it to the semi-final of both 100m and 200m. In 1962 he defeated the likes of Cuba’s Enrique Figuerola, Jamaica’s Dennis Johnson, and Venezuela’s Rafael Romero, Arquimedes Herrera, and Horacio Esteves, to win the 100m at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, Jamaica. Later that year he won the Silver medal in the 200m at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.

Before making it to the final of the 100m in Tokyo in 1964, Robinson set a new World Indoor record in the 300m in Saskatoon, Canada.

In 1966 at the Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, Robinson, who had attended the University of Michigan from 1957 to 1962, finished second to Canada’s Harry Jerome in the 100m. It took more than an hour before Jerome, who had previously tied the 100 yards and 100m World records, was declared the winner.

Robinson had a hamstring injury in the semi-final of the 400m relay at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, dashing the hopes of the Bahamian team.

After he finished competition at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970, Robinson continued his involvement in athletics as a manager and coach.

The stadium in Nassau was named after him in 1981.

The luncheon was attended by a host of national figures including the Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Arthur Dion Hanna, The Prime Minister, Hubert Alexander Ingraham, and the Leader of the Opposition, Perry Gladstone Christie, a teammate of Robinson.

Christie, the former Prime Minister, was the first Bahamian to win an international medal in a field event, a Bronze in the Triple Jump in the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games.

Cuba’s Enrique Figuerola, the Silver medalist in the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics, and Hilton Nicholson, his roommate at the University of Michigan attended, and Reverend Canon Dr. Gervais Clarke, Secretary General of the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Area Athletic Association also attended.

During the Luncheon Prime Minister Ingraham announced that the new stadium which is under construction, and is expected to be finished in July of 2011, will also bear the name of Thomas Augustus Robinson.

During the Luncheon the Committee announced the establishment of an Athletic Scholarship in Robinson’s name at the College of The Bahamas for a deserving Track and Field athlete. The Scholarship is worth $10,000.

That Friday, July 24th, marked the fifty-first anniversary of Robinson’s historic win in the 220 yards in Cardiff, Wales. It was declared Tommy Robinson Day by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

Robinson, who turned seventy-one in March of this year, was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year.

The Luncheon, which had more than six hundred well wishers from every walk of Bahamian life in attendance, was organized by The Friends of Thomas Augustus(Tommy) Robinson committee.

Alpheus Finlayson for the IAAF