Before Hurricane Irma came through Florida, it devastated the British Virgin Islands -- located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. Dean Greenway, webmaster for our BVI MileSplit affiliate, said track and field has taken two major hits because of Irma.
"Hurricane Irma destroyed our track and field and it also took the life of coach Dag Samuels, who also managed the AO Shirley Grounds," Greenway explained. "Dag wasn't just a coach. He was a great administrator as well who understood roles. He took initiative when things needed to be done. He was the first on the field setting up for track meets and the last to leave."
Samuels coached and managed the Fast Lane Track Club which made several trips to Central Florida for the Golden South Classic; it was one of the top track clubs in the Caribbean, producing multiple standout athletes including Kyron McMaster who recorded the fastest time in the world in 2017 in the 400m hurdles.
We are happy to announce that a portion of our t-shirt sales from the FLRunners.com Invitational totaling over $1,600 has been given back to Samuel's Fast Lane Track Club. The money was used to buy back packs, running tops, tights, fleece pants, short and long sleeve shirts, towels, as well as banners for the facility.
"[The loss of Dag Samuels] will leave Fast Lane in a challenging position as he sourced funding for his athletes to travel," Greenway added. "Any assistance will go towards furthering their development as there are several up-and-coming athletes in his camp."
According to Greenway, a candlelight vigil was held in Samuels honor Friday October 20th at the A.O. Shirley Grounds.
"It was the same place where he managed and dedicated his life to the development of the territory's track and field athletes," he said. "I know Dag would have been appreciative of the contribution which will present his athletes in a good light and would have expressed his heartfelt thanks."
A Tribute To Coach Dag Samuels By Dean Greenway: Dag... More Than Just A Coach
During my walking tour of Long Look in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I was shocked and extremely saddened to learn of Dag's passing, which hit me like a wet bag of sand!
Between 2002 and 2015, Dag and I had been together on numerous missions representing the BVI, including the Commonwealth Games; CAC Games; Pan Am Games; Olympic Games and the IAAF World Championships.
To most, Dag is known as a coach who has been working on the development of the territory's athletes for the last 38 years. And more so, the first coach from the Leeward Islands to ever coach an athlete to the fastest time run in the world in any event, when his protégé Kyron McMaster did the feat over the 400m Hurdles on May 20 in Jamaica, the fastest time in 2017.
As a Phys Ed Teacher, he touched the lives of many students during his tenure and was always someone the very young could relate to, as he came down to their level and reached out to them.
However, Dag was more than just a Coach and teacher. He was the founder of Fast Lane Track Club, a motivator, mentor, advisor and father figure to his athletes and others with whom he worked before, as well as he knew when to be the clown to lighten the mood.
Surveying the territory's entire sporting landscape, from what I observed, Dag was one who fully understood sports administration and, the importance of people fulfilling roles. He was someone who was able to successfully execute his role and fill in on others roles when they didn't pull their weight. His astute acumen will be sorely missed as he's the only one with whom I could engage in meaningful and insightful administrative dialogue on many matters.
He understood the workings of the Olympic Movement and the IAAF system. He used the Olympic System as Chef de Mission to get Eric Mathias into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when everyone had doubts, because field event athletes had to be qualified, but he worked his magic simply by asking questions.
During the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, after the 400m Hurdles, Dag told everyone in air shot, that his athlete would contend for a medal in the event in London in 2017, a statement repeated time and again. Everyone laughed as no one took him seriously, but in 2017, Kyron McMaster ran the fastest time in the world and he had the last laugh.
Track meets will not be the same without Dag. He was the first on the track and the last to leave. During my BVI Athletics Association presidency, many times I'd ask him to pace himself and look after his health.
"Boy, you don't understand the work needed to be done," he'd always say. Dag's dedication to the sport was unparalleled. Anything that was to be done, even if it wasn't his role, he ensured it was done or got someone to do it, for the better good. Dag NEVER waited to be told what to do, he took initiative and executed, a very admirable trait!!
After taking over the management of the A. O. Shirley Grounds, he scheduled every Primary School meet and had been involved in the Inter Primary Championships for over 30 years. He wanted to see the event become a true championship and the 2014 event came off only because of him when systems failed.
He was a Meet Director, and understood every facet of competition. He set schedules and the annual calendar for the BVI Athletics Association and relied on regional contacts to fill the calendar with external competitions, an aspect many of us easily took for granted. He also spearheaded the annual athletes qualifying standards for meets like the Carifta Games and the Pan Am Jr. Championships and others.
BVI sports in general and Track and Field in particular, has lost one of its most valuable resources to have come along within the last 30 years.
I'll continue to cherish our times and will complete the 2017 Track and Field interview, when we meet again.
Dean "The Sportsman" Greenaway
Past President, BVI Athletics Association/Journalist