(Black History News) Black women are displaying excellence in all fields, especially in the realm of sports. A group of women from Antigua recently hit a major milestone by becoming the first all-Black women’s rowing team to cross the Atlantic Ocean, Black Enterprise reported.
The women—dubbed Team Antigua-The Island Girls—competed in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. The competition is a premier event in ocean rowing. The team—which included Kevinia Francis, Christal Clashing, Elvira Bell, and Samara Emmanuel—embarked on their journey on December 12 in the Canary Islands and returned to Antigua at the end of January. Their journey was nothing short of grueling but the women pushed through and persevered. The entire trip was a total of 3,000 miles and they dealt with sea sickness and complications with their boat.
Each woman brought their vast athletic experience to the competition. Francis was known for playing a handful of sports including track-and-field, basketball and cycling, Clashing is a former Olympian who became the first woman swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics, Bell is a swim instructor, and Emmanuel’s experience as a sailor spans over a decade. Junella King—a 17-year-old who served as an alternate for the team—worked as a sailing instructor. The competition was about more than rowing, the focus was on social good as well. The team competed to raise $150,000 for a charity called Cottage of Hope which focuses on providing shelter for orphaned girls who experience abuse.
The women received a warm welcome home, as the government closed schools and other institutions early so that locals could congratulate the team. “While this is the third time a team from Antigua and Barbuda has entered the Challenge, we are truly proud that the first all-black female team to row the Atlantic is comprised of four courageous Antiguan women,” Charles Fernandez, Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, told Caribbean Life News. “This is history in the making, and it will truly be a momentous occasion for Antigua and Barbuda.”