By Alpheus Finlayson, Special to Trackalerts.com
Saturday, October 18th marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Bahamas reaching the finals in an Olympic Track & Field event. It happened at the Tokyo Olympic Games when Thomas Augustus made the final in the 100 metres, finishing eighth after a great start.
First Participation in Olympic Games
Track & Field Thomas Robinson became the first Bahamian to participate in Track & Field in the Olympic Games, when in 1956 he traveled to Melbourne, Australia for the Games. Robinson was eighteen years old at the time and finished fourth in the first round of both 100 metres and 200 metres, clocking 11.06 seconds and 21.67 seconds.
Robinson did not advance to the second round.
President of the Bahamas Amateur Athletic Association Cyril “Cap” Richardson was the manager of the one man team. This was four years after the founding of the federation. From the founding the goal was for The Bahamas to participate in Track & Field in the Olympic Games.
First International Medal
A year later at the West Indian Federation Games in Kingston, Jamaica Robinson became the first Bahamian to win a medal in international Track & Field, a Bronze in the 100 metres in 10.6 seconds. He was also a member of the 4x100m relay team with Oscar Francis, Enoch Backford, and Tom Grant that also won a Bronze medal in 44.2 seconds.
Twenty Year Old Robinson Stuns the World
A year later at the age of twenty Robinson stunned the world at the British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales when he won the Gold medal in the 220 yards and the Silver medal in the 100 yards.
Robinson was solo as no coach or manager accompanied him. At the Rome Olympics Tommy made the semi-final in both 100 metres and 200 metres finishing in fifth place in both events and running 10.69 seconds and 21.67 seconds.
Advancing to the Final
At the Tokyo Games Robinson was a mature twenty-six and had several international races under his belt.
He finished second to Bob Hayes in the semi-final and was in great position in the final when he began to make his move at 50 metres. It was then that his hamstring gave out and he finished in eighth place in 10.57 seconds.
“Bullet” Bob Hayes completely dominated the race, setting a new World record of 10.06 seconds, an electronic clocking. Cuba’s Enrique Figuerola, whom Robinson had defeated at the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, won the Silver medal in 10.26 seconds.
Another Bahamian sprinter, George Collie also participated in Tokyo. Collie finished fifth in both of his heats in 10.90 seconds in the 100 metres and in 21.91 seconds in the 200 metres.
The Significance of the Achievement
Since 1964 numerous Bahamian athletes have participated in the 100 metres at the Olympic Games but no males have ever made a final. Looking back fifty years now we have to be impressed with this signal achievement of October 18th 1964.ive days later Sr. Durward Knowles and Cecil Cooke captured the Gold medal in Star Class Sailing, achieving the nation’s first Olympic Gold medal.