The mission of the Dominica Olympic Committee is to develop and protect the Olympic Movement in accordance with the Olympic Charter and programs of the International Olympic Committee and propagate the fundamental principles of Olympism at national level within the framework of sporting activities and otherwise contribute among other things towards the development of National Affiliates and Sports for All.
The idea of formation of an Olympic Committee evolved from the existing and functional Dominica Amateur Athletics Association (DAAA) and the Dominica Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA). In fact the Dominica Amateur Athletics Association was founded by Oswald B. Savarin and Felix A. Wilson in December 1982, responding to the call for its formation by Stephen Agar and Julius Lewis, two athletes of the Striders Athletics Club. Between late November 1985 and early 1986 a few sporting bodies were invited to the Sixth Form College (as it was called then) to a meeting to explore the formation of an Olympic Committee. Rupert Lake from Antigua gave some guidelines based on his experience and participation as an officer of the Antigua Olympic Committee.
A steering committee was formed to include Rolston St. Hilaire (Secretary) and Felix Wilson (Vice President) from the DAAA, Joyce Rabess (Netball), Clifford Severin (Treasurer) from the DLTA and Francis Dupigny (President). He became the first President nominated by Clifford Severin and elected in absentia. Dupigny had just retired from Barclays Bank as Manager and had indicated to Severin his willingness to serve. Interestingly, the then President of the DAAA did not see it as a good idea to have elected Mr. Dupigny in absentia.
There was no recorded meeting of that Steering Committee as Mr. Dupigny never came forward to fulfil his post as President. We remained in abeyance for a period of time until a retired distinguished lawyer, F. O. C. Harris, took on the mantle late 1986 and attempted to structure the Olympic Steering Committee. He was personally responsible for drafting a constitution, which remained with us until 1997.
Mr. Harris made contact with Olympic Committees in the region including those in Barbados, Trinidad and particularly Jamaica. In Jamaica, Herb McKinley; in Barbados, Austin Sealy (an IOC member) and in Puerto Rico, Amadeo Francis (Regional IAAF Representative), either made representation or gave support for Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Kitts’ entry into the family of the International Olympic Committee. The DAAA, under Secretary Thompson Fontaine, played its part because the DAAA saw itself as the main beneficiary of the existence of a DOC.
Our small size and economies meant we could be and were ignored by the echelon of the IOC. We observed the break-away republics in Yugoslavia and Russia and even South Africa being inducted as members. Our morale was partially broken.
Nevertheless, in August of 1988, the non-affiliated DOC embarked on a major project dubbed “RACE AGAINST TIME” in which National Olympic Committees around the world were asked to use sport as a vehicle to raise funds to fight poverty. DOC’s first public image became noticeable then.
Dominica, Trinidad and Brazil were the three territories in our hemisphere carded to receive large benefits from the London-based organizers of the world link-up in the “RACE AGAINST TIME”. Some of those organizers eventually went to jail for fraud. Cosie Harris died on March 26, 1989. This left a void and disillusionment in the Dominica Olympic Committee. Later that year, there was the return of Francis Dupigny to head the DOC. It existed until December 1993 when we were informed that Dominica, under the FOC Harris constitution, had been inducted into the IOC.
Elections in early 1994 were vicious and chaotic as one could imagine with the seemingly opportunistic ascension to world recognition and involvement. St. Havis Shillingford, just retired from public service as Sports Coordinator and called as the retaining officer, became President, displacing Mr. Francis Dupigny who also lost narrowly to Felix Wilson as Vice President. The rest of the team included Joyce Rabess, Secretary; Clifford Severin, Treasurer; Michael Leblanc, Rosanne Pringle, Herbert Joseph, Ainsworth Irish and Peterson Charles (who never fulfilled his post) as members. For at least three (3) years the Dominica Olympic Committee was manned with only a few persons having the knowledge of the function of a National Olympic Committee. Attempts were never made to promote Olympism and only two Annual General Meetings (AGMs) were called between 1995 and April 1997.
In 1996 however, Dominica made its celebrated entry into the OLYMPICS. That sacred event requires a special section in this magazine and will be dealt with later. With growing dissatisfaction of the conduct of Olympic business by the DOC, lack of information, purpose and direction, April 1997 saw the ascendancy of a new and dedicated team of sport administrators led by President, Felix A. Wilson. Other officers included Thomas Dorsett (DLTA), Secretary; John Lewis (DAAA), Treasurer (who later resigned; Hubert Joseph (DABA), Vice President; Ainsworth Irish, Assistant Secretary; Derek Angol, Val Nicholas (swimming), Rosanne Pringle Treasurer co-opted, Nathaniel Isaac (DAVA) and Adenaur Douglas (DABA).
Since April 1997 Dominicans and the world have been more informed of the presence and function of the Dominica Olympic Committee.