The Nassau Guardian’s
Bahamian Serena Brown is making a name for herself, and her country, in the throws.
She was voted as The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year for 2016 after an outstanding year in athletics, setting personal best marks, breaking national records, and earning regional and international top five finishes.
Brown had a coming out party in the throws this year, particularly the women’s discus event. She was third and fourth at the 45th CARIFTA Games in St. George’s, Grenada, in the under-20 girls discus and shot put events respectively. From there, she went to the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) Junior National Track and Field Championships, where she qualified for the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World U20 Championships in the girls’ discus.
It was personal best after personal best, and national record after national record, for Brown at the world u20s in Bydgoszcz, Poland, eventually settling for a fourth place finish in the final with a mark of 52.73 meters (m) – 173’. It was a remarkable accomplishment considering that coming into the global event, Brown had never thrown over 50m (164’) in her life, and also went down as the highest ever finish for The Bahamas in a field event at the IAAF World U20s.
Her mark in the final also went down as a new junior and senior national record. For the latter, the 17-year-old Texas A&M bound athlete broke Laverne Eve’s 26-year-old senior national mark of 52.52m (172’ 3”), one of the oldest national marks on the books. Earlier in the meet, she took down Chafree Bain’s 16-year-old junior national record of 49.66m (162’ 11”). At the global championships, Brown had four throws over 50m, one in qualifying and the other three in the final.
She qualified for the final after finishing fifth in her group and eighth
overall – becoming the first Bahamian to qualify for a final in the throws at the world u20s, formerly the world juniors. Denzel Pratt accomplished the feat at the world youth, now the world under 18s in the boys’ javelin in Donetsk, Ukraine, in 2013.
On the senior side, Eve has won medals at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Pan Am Games; and has made finals at both the world championships and the Olympics.
As for Brown, she is the new face of the throws in The Bahamas, and is a part of the renaissance in Bahamian athletics. At the BAAA junior nationals, Brown had an IAAF World U20s qualifying throw of 48.20m (158’ 1”), surpassing the standard of 48m flat (157’ 6”). In Bydgoszcz at the world under 20s, she had five throws over that distance, eventually settling for the new senior national mark of 52.73m.
Brown is coached locally by Bradley Cooper.
Last year’s winner Joanna Evans settled for second this year in The Nassau Guardian’s voting process but what a remarkable year she had, reaching the Olympic qualifying time in two events, and the Olympic selection time in another. At the Olympics, Evans finished 13th overall in the women’s 400m free in a new national record of 4:07.60, 23rd overall in the women’s 800m free in 8:42.93, and 37th overall in the women’s 200m free in another national record time of 2:01.27.
Brown won with 28 points, Evans was second with 26 points and Jenae Ambrose rounded out the top three with 21 points.
Ambrose was arguably the top junior female sprinter in the country this year. She was a triple medalist at the 2016 CARIFTA Games in St. George’s, Grenada, and turned in a stunning fourth place finish in the girls 200m at the IAAF World U20s, running 23.53 seconds. She set personal best times in both the 100 and 200m this year, running 11.61 and 23.43 seconds respectively.
Swimmer Margaret Higgs was fourth with 18 points, and Devine Parker finished fifth with 16 points.