For the first time in about a decade, this yearly review does not feature the exploits of Dame Flora Duffy.
The achievements of our Olympic champion have often been the starting point for any article written about Bermuda sport, but with Duffy ruled out of action for the entirety of 2023 with a persistent knee injury, it was time for the island’s other sporting stars to shine.
And shine they did.
Conor White led the way at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, in October, when he won only Bermuda’s tenth medal at the Games and the first since Duffy picked up bronze in Toronto in 2015.
White finished third in the cycling time-trial to round off a year full of medals for him after also picking up hardware at the Central American and Caribbean Games and the Caribbean Championships.
His success was more than matched by wheelchair sprinter Jessica Lewis, who does what she always does at the Parapan Am Games, and that’s win the T53 100 metres in record time.
Lewis smashed her own Games record by more than half a second to win her third gold in the event after victories in Canada in 2015 and Lima in 2019.
Yushae DeSilva-Andrade is rocketing up the world boccia rankings, and she announced herself on the global stage with a silver medal at the same event. That performance came hot on the heels of gold at the World Boccia Cup in Brazil and she heads into the 2024 Paralympics in Paris as a genuine medal contender.
In sport the margin between success and failure is often small and the national teams agonisingly fell at their respective final hurdles in their quest to take on the world’s elite.
The cricket team were just one game away from qualifying for a World Cup for the first time since 2007 but suffered a heart-wrenching defeat by Canada in the final Americas region qualifier for the T20 World Cup.
Under Niraj Odedra, a respected trophy-winning coach from India, Bermuda’s players showed professionalism, perseverance and passion to galvanise the country’s cricket fans behind them.
A stunning 86-run victory over favourites Canada in the opening game of the tournament on home soil gave hope that after 17 years Bermuda could again be taking on the likes of India, England and Australia on the greatest of stage of all.
Echoes of 2007 came in the shape of Bermuda’s star of the tournament, Kamau Leverock, the nephew of Dwayne Leverock who entered cricket folklore after his stunning slip catch in the World Cup. The younger Leverock hit 83 in that opening match and 98, from 59 balls against Cayman Islands, eventually ending as the tournament MVP.
With Bermuda winning four of their first five matches, with the other a no result, and Canada making up for their defeat against the home side by thrashing every other opponent they played, the final match of the tournament was a straight shoot-out.
With heavy overnight rain making for a tricky pitch and reducing the match to 18 overs, Canada won the toss, elected to bat and made 132 for four, a score no more than respectable.
For a while, a winning chase looked on with opener Leverock in the twenties and No 3 Terryn Fray finding form for the first time in the tournament as he reached 30. But when Leverock fell for 23 and captain Delray Rawlins followed him within five balls, the task looked tough, with only Allan Douglas Jr (22) of Bermuda’s last eight batters making more than three runs.
The future is now up in the air, with Odedra yet to be offered a new deal and Lloyd Smith returning as Bermuda Cricket Board president after defeating incumbent Arnold Manders 7-6 at the annual meeting just a few weeks ago.
There were eerie similarities between cricket and football, with Bermuda’s football teams engendering a feel-good factor among the public as they entered their final matches of the year top of their leagues only to falter.
The men were sitting proudly at the summit of Concacaf League B group C with promotion and future matches against the likes of Jamaica, Honduras and Panama in their own hands.
Under new Canadian coach Michael Findlay, who replaced Kyle Lightbourne at the start of August, there were definite signs of improvement and a much more attractive style, but a win was needed away against French Guiana in the final round of fixtures to secure promotion.
A 3-0 defeat was a disappointing way to end the campaign, but Findlay will be encouraged by the contributions made by some exciting young players.
It was a similar scenario for the women’s team who topped their Women’s Concacaf Gold Cup group going into the final day of matches.
After two wins against St Vincent & the Grenadines, one by default, a win and draw against Barbados and a home victory against Dominican Republic, Naquita Robinson’s side needed just a point against the latter to secure a spot in the Gold Cup play-off stages but lost 2-0.
On the domestic front, Jordan DeSilva announced his retirement as Somerset cricket captain after a draw with St George’s ensured the Cup Match trophy stayed in the West End for at least another year.
Dion Stovell was again the star, hitting 139 in his second successive Cup Match century as Somerset fell short in an ambitious attempt to inflict an inning defeat. Stovell’s side scored 404 in their first innings, bowling out St George’s for 219 and leaving them at 242 for six after following on.
Bermuda’s tight-knit football community was in mourning in May after PHC Zebras captain Marco Warren was killed in an incident on the roads.
Warren was the league’s standout performer and had been named Bermuda Football Association Player of the Year for the third time in just five seasons three weeks before his death
The 29-year-old almost led his side to their first Triple Crown in 52 years last season, helping his side to glory in the Premier Division and Friendship Trophy before losing 2-1 to North Village in the FA Cup Final, with Warren unavailable through suspension.