By Neto Baptiste
Former national track & field athlete and former prime minister, Sir Lester Bird, believes that his brother, Ivor Bird, has not been duly recognised for his achievements in the sport.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Sir Lester said his brother who was also a national athlete, was a fierce competitor and he always represented Antigua and Barbuda with pride.
“In 1965, I think it was, there was a high-jumper from Puerto Rico called Anton Norris and he had jumped six feet and eight inches. At that time, Phil Reavis [USA] had just finished jumping seven feet, but Ivor became the high jump champion of the Western Michigan Championships, and we went to Barbados and Ivor beat Anton Norris and jumped six feet 10 inches and got no recognition, and I watched a lot of guys from some second rate colleges taking praise,” he said.
Ivor captured gold in the high jump event at the British West Indies Championships in 1965.
Sir Lester, who was prime minister from 1994 to 2004, explained that he played a pivotal role in his brother’s move to Michigan.
“I think that Ivor has not been given enough recognition because after I got up to Michigan and had become big 10 champion and all of that, the coach at Kalamazoo, Western Michigan, asked me if I had any other athlete that could come and get a scholarship and in fact, to be able to perform, and I said yes, I have a brother by the name of Ivor Bird who is a high-jumper and so he gave the scholarship and Ivor went off to Western Michigan University, but nobody knows that,” he said.
Ivor also represented Antigua and Barbuda in high jump at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.