Steven Gardiner poised for big breakout season
How awesome will Steven Gardiner be this season?
Abaco native Gardiner is just 23 years old and already has on his resume an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships 400 meters (m) silver; an Olympic 1600m relay bronze medal; an IAAF World Relays mixed relay gold medal and an IAAF World Relays 1600m relay silver medal.
Throughout the years, many quality athletes (from The Bahamas, for sure) have not been able to accumulate as much throughout their entire careers. If he just duplicates during the rest of his career what he has done so far, Gardiner would be entrenched as one of the greats of all-time in this country.
His potential, however, suggests greater milestones — and, I submit, those of world historic proportions.
He has become a respected sprinter worldwide, despite competing while his body is still maturing. The man who discovered Gardiner, Rev. Anthony Williams, acknowledges that up to now the rangy speedster has been unable to blend his blazing speed over 200 and 400 meters with the appropriate strength.
“I feel this will be a breakout year for him. Several weeks ago, he ran a world-leading 300 meters race. I watched him, and he looked much stronger. He should be much better this season. I know his coach has been working with him for strength. Once he gets stronger, he will do much more. He looked very strong, running that 300,” said Williams.
The words “much better” could translate into consistent 400m races under 44 seconds and 200m races under 20 seconds. Gardiner owns national records of 43.87 seconds (400m) and 19.75 seconds (200m). No other Bahamian has run under 44 seconds in the 400m and sub-20 seconds in the 200m. Gardiner is capable of running faster. Coach Williams thinks he can dip under 43 seconds in the one-lapper, and I’m of the same view.
I recall a race last year when he came into the home stretch curve with an incredible blaze of speed and then tottered, before easing down and quitting the 200m race. The explanation was that he felt something was not right and simply did the sensible thing and closed down the race.
It just looked like his body could not sustain the speed, and Coach Williams says stronger legs would make all the difference in the world.
“His progress has been great thus far. It’s been super, but, endurance is necessary and his legs needed more strength in order for him to go to the next level. I’m sure his coach recognizes that, and I am sure we will see a much different Stevie this season,” stated the early mentor of the 6-foot-5 sprint sensation.
If the 300m season-opening event was a true sign, great performances are in store for a healthy Steven Gardiner during the 2019 Pan American Games (July 26 to Augu AF World Championships (September 28 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar); and the 2020 Olympic Games (July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan).
Gardiner definitely has what it takes to become the world’s best in both of his specialty sprints.
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