The Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and the Ministry of Sports will honor Olympians Sir Durward Knowles and the late Cecil Cooke in October while commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bahamas’ first Olympic medal. Sir Durward referred to the occasion as a celebration for the entire Bahamas.
On October 23, 1964, Sir Durward and Cecil Cooke won the country’s first Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games. On the 50th anniversary of the win, the two will be honored in a luncheon that will be attended by a senior official of the International Olympic Committee.
At the luncheon, the IOC will present Sir Durward with the prestigious President’s Trophy – the highest honor 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 Japanese Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games Federation and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) are expected to attend.
Wellington Miller, president of the BOC, said people around the world still remember the historic accomplishment of 1964.
“When we travel now, people ask about Sir Durward, and some of his longtime sailors can tell us about when we won our first medal,” he said. “The Bahamas Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Youth deem this an honor and appropriate to honor two great gentlemen who long before many of our time, went out and put the Bahamas on the map as a sporting nation.”
Sandra Cooke said her family is honored and happy that the BOC and IOC will honor the Bahamas’ “two greatest sailors.” She was happy to be receiving the medal on her father’s behalf.
“We are very very proud of him and we are very proud now that finally he will get his acknowledgement,” Ms. Cooke said. “He will get his recognition, something that he did not get before he left us.”
Sir Durward said he was honored that he will be receiving further recognition for his Olympic accomplishment, but also gave much credit to his crew.
“Nothing is more important than to have a crew with you who keep you up, who keep you on the edge and at the same time not over the edge,” he said.
Sir Durward said it was amazing how well he and Mr. Cooke sailed together. However, he recalled the distinct way in which the IOC Chairman congratulated him and Mr. Cooke after their gold medal performance.
“He didn’t say well done Cecil Cooke or Durward Knowles. (He said) ‘well done Bahamas.’ I want us today to understand that this is a Bahamian celebration,” Sir Durward said. “I enjoyed the winning the (1947) World Championship, being the first, and wining the Olympic gold medal, being the first along with Cecil. It is my great honor to be celebrated in this way on October 23 and I am sure Sandra feels likewise.”
Minister of Sports Dr. Daniel Johnson had similar sentiments. He said the Bahamas is known best for team successes. He said great accomplishments will continue as long as Bahamians remain united and work together.
The theme for the October 23 luncheon is “Celebrating 50 years of Gold in The Bahamas.”
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