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Williams wants Olympic distance running berth

Distance runner O’Neil Williams wants to make a significant “Olympic” difference on the Bahamian track and field scene in the very near future.

The Bahamas has been officially represented at the Olympic Games’ competitions since Helsinki, in Finland, was the host city in 1952.  Next year will thus mark the 60th anniversary for this country.

In 1956 at the Games in Melbourne, Australia, Thomas Augustus Robinson was the one representative from track and field.  While Robinson never won an Olympic medal, he was the first finalist (100 meters at the Tokyo Games of 1964).

The medal run for Bahamian track and field began with Frank Rutherford at the Barcelona Games in 1992 when he won a triple jump bronze.  There has been a medal continuance for The Bahamas in track and field with the original Golden Girls (Pauline Davis, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savatheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson), Tonique Williams-Darling, the men’s national 1600 meter relay team and Leevan Sands.

The Golden Girls won a 4X100 relay silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the gold in Sydney, Australia at the 2000 Games.  Pauline Davis won the 200 meters gold in Sydney; Williams-Darling the 400 meters gold at the Athens Games in 2004; Ferguson the 2000 bronze in 2004; the 1600 relay team won silver in 2008 and Sands captured the triple jump bronze.

Throughout all of the years, since 1952 and all of the accomplishments in athletics, The Bahamas has never had a representative in long distance running.

Williams wants to change that.

The 28-year-old has made a big decision to travel to an environment that is synonymous with long distance running success.  He informed recently that he is in Kenya training.

“I am currently training in Kapsabet, Kenya and hoping for a berth (on the national team) for the 2012 Olympic Games.  I am the first and only Bahamian distance runner to travel from The Bahamas to Kenya in order to achieve a goal in distance running.  I am presently living with my former classmate’s family, the Kirwas.  My journey started as a joke online while communicating with my classmate about running in Kenya.  I played with the idea and talked to my adopted father Dionisio D’Aguilar and I asked my boss (at Grant Thornton) Paul Gomez if I could take time off to train.  He was agreeable. I left on November 3rd and have been training hard ever since,” said Williams.

It’s quite an ambitious decision Williams has made.  Whether he is successful in making our London 2012 team or not, he certainly must be applauded for the initiative.  At the very least he is having, what years later, he will no doubt conclude to be one of his greatest experiences.

Can he really make the Olympic team?

Williams runs the 800 meters, the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters.  He has registered times of 1:51.00 and 3:51.00 in the 800 and 1500 meters respectively.  The Olympic “B” qualifying standards are 1:47.00 and 3:39.00.  I don’t think he should bother with those events.

In the 5000 meters he is the national record holder at 14:00.54.  The Olympic “B” qualifying standard is 13:28.00.  I think the longer distance should be his focus.  The Kenyan competitive climate could do it for him.

Best wishes Oneil!

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]).

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