“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution…”

– Aristotle

The late doctor Bernard Nottage was an accomplished doctor, an amazing politician, a government minister, as well as an outstanding sports icon and Bahamian patriot.

At a very early age, Bernard Nottage affectionately known as “BJ” exhibited extraordinary ability in academics and sports. As a student of the Government High School and as a member of the St. Bernard’s Sporting Club, BJ demonstrated his athletic prowess as a standout sprinter – he was the top athlete during his era.

BJ became one of the elite athletes of his day and advanced to participate in regional and international competitions. He participated in the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, Jamaica; the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston; and the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. His crowning moment was as a member of the 1968 Olympic team which participated in the games held in Mexico City.

He was a key member of the legendary 4x100m relay team which included Norris Stubbs, Kevin Johnson and Thomas Robinson. Not only did this team qualify for the semi-finals, it also established a Bahamian national record of 39.45 seconds in the process — a record which lasted for a quarter of a century! Nottage finished his athletic career at the 1970 British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In 1974 BJ returned home immediately reporting for work where he became the second Bahamian OB/GYN at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). Other accomplishments included:
  • He was promoted to Consultant Physician and eventually Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at PMH.
  • He establish his own medical facility — St. Luke’s Medical Centre — the first major 5 multispecialty practice that included offices, a laboratory, and a pharmacy.
  • Dr. Nottage championed the cause for good reproductive health and family planning, serving as the founding President of The Bahamas Family Planning Association.
  • Believing that the remuneration received by doctors and their working conditions should reflect their professional status, Dr. Nottage established the Doctors Union to bargain on their behalf.
  • He was also President of the Bahamas Medical Association and served as a member of the Bahamas Medical Council.
Upon BJ’s return home, Winston “Gus” Cooper, having served as coach of the 1968 Olympic team, knew of BJ’s knowledge of athletics, strong work ethic and desire for success, he determined that it would be a wonderful idea for BJ to succeed him as president of the Bahamas Amateur Athletic Association (BAAA).
To facilitate his transition from athlete to sports administrator, BJ was appointed chef de mission for the 1975 Pan American Games and chairman of the 1976 CARIFTA Games. The Bahamas caught “CARIFTA Fever” and CARIFTA 1976, the first international games held in The Bahamas, was a smashing success, in large measure due to BJ’s energetic and visionary leadership. Less than a month after the 1976 CARIFTA Games, BJ was ready to complete the transition from athlete to sports administrator.
Nottage was elected president of the BAAA and quickly elevated the profile of that organization both locally and regionally, such that in 1982, the region recognized his worth as a sports administrator by electing him to head the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Confederation (CACAC). Using this enhanced capacity, the BAAA was able to host successfully at least eight regional games.
As president of CACAC, Nottage was influential in democratizing the track and field world, as he was one of the leaders in the “one country, one vote” movement. He also introduced numerous technical and coaching advancements.
During Dr. Nottage’s presidency of the BAAA, The Bahamas grew into a regional sporting power, as the number of athletes winning medals at regional and hemispheric competitions increased exponentially. More and more, our athletes were also qualifying for and advancing beyond the preliminary rounds at international games, including the Olympics. Indeed, the first Bahamians to win individual Olympic medals in track and field, including Frank Rutherford and Pauline Davis-Thompson, are products of the BAAA’s development programme initiated during this period.
Additionally, he ensured that the internal capacity of the organization was strengthened by mentoring others, including Alpheus “Hawk” Finlayson, Foster Dorsett, and Mike Sands — all of whom would become BAAA presidents.
Entering front-line politics in 1987, Nottage decided to retire from sports administration, demitting office as BAAA president in 1989 and CACAC president in 1990. Dr. Nottage is still the longest serving president of the BAAA.

The Statesman – A True Nationalist Dr. Nottage’s public life, which spanned thirty years, transcended party politics.

In 1987 he won the constituency seat for Garden Hills. Subsequently he went on to serve as a Member of Parliament in the Kennedy Constituency in 1992 and 1997 and in Bains and Grants Town Constituency in 2007 and 2012. Throughout his political career he held office as Minister of Consumer Affairs, Minister of Education, Minister of National Security, Minister of Health and National Insurance, Co-deputy Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Assembly, Senator andCEO and leader of the Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR).
He was a true statesman and nationalist. He believed deeply in the worth and potential of Bahamians and understood that, given the right tools and opportunity, Bahamians could achieve excellence.