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Dismal showing for The Bahamas at the world relays

It was sheer disappointment for Team Bahamas at the fourth running of the IAAF World Relays, as they travelled with huge expectations all the way to the other side of the world, and ended up with a no-show in the men’s 4×400 meters (m) relay, and a disqualification in the men’s 4x200m relay.

 The two-day International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Relay Championships wrapped up on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan, with the United States winning another “Golden Baton” Award – given out to the meet’s best performing nation. The Bahamas was dismal.

With national record holder and sub-44 man Steven Gardiner added to the fold, there were huge expectations for the men’s 4x400m relay team in particular. However, that team never stepped on the track as it was reported that Gardiner suffered a strain Achilles tendon, and there was insufficient time to bring in a replacement. There were six runners entered and 10 members of the team in total at the world relays, held outside of The Bahamas for the first time.

The team of O’Jay Ferguson, Alonzo Russell, Andre Colebrook and Steven Gardiner, in that order, was entered in heat three of the men’s 4x400m relay but never got on track.

“Once a relay declaration is submitted, and the time has expired, any change would make that change invalid,” said Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer. “We were unable to replace Mr. Steven Gardiner for another athlete and on a technicality, we were unable to enter into the event. I am as gutted as the Bahamian people would feel at this point. It is unfortunate that The Bahamas would not be able to celebrate in the normal fashion that we are accustomed to.”

 According to reports, Gardiner expressed discomfort during a workout session a couple of days earlier. Reportedly, after the diagnose of the strained Achilles tendon, it was determined that he was unfit to run, and there was insufficient time for the substitute to fill in. However, there was never any major concern expressed by team officials leading up to the race. In fact, it wasn’t until hours after the no-show that word came out about Gardiner’s injury.

This was just the beginning of things to come. On Sunday, The Bahamas’ men’s 4x200m relay team of Cliff Resias, Stephen “Dirty” Newbold, Anthony Adderley and CARIFTA athlete Rico Moultrie, in that order, were disqualified after a faulty exchange. They qualified for the final sixth in 1:22.40, but dropped the stick in the final. The baton was dropped between lead-off runner Resias and second leg Newbold. Newbold went back and picked up the baton, and The Bahamas finished the race at the rear, but was later disqualified for a lane infraction.

With that, there are questions as well. Where were Shavez Hart and Teray Smith – two of the fastest Bahamians over that distance in history? They were both members of the team in Japan, but neither was in the line-up for Team Bahamas. Are they injured, and if so, why were they taken to the world relays in the first place?

There are question marks surrounding Gardiner’s injury. When was the injury sustained? When did team officials become aware of it? Why wasn’t a substitute inserted in a timely fashion? Reportedly, even members of Team Bahamas in Japan are asking these questions.

Be that as it may, for the first time, The Bahamas comes up with no medals from the world relays as the men’s 4×400 team appears to still be in disarray, and the 4×200 team dropped the stick.

Additionally, there was no title defense in the mixed 4x400m relay. The men and women’s 4x100m teams, and the women’s 4x400m, didn’t even qualify, and despite having two sub-13 second female hurdlers, there was no appearance in the shuttle hurdles relay where The Bahamas could have picked up a sure medal as only two nations finished that race in Japan.

Disappointing to say the least, but The Bahamas’ teams will now have to look at other means to qualify relay teams for 17th IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, later this year. Those championships are set for September 27 to October 6.

The world relays provided a perfect avenue for national teams to qualify their relay squads, as the top 10 in the men and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m events, and the top 12 in the mixed 4x400m relay, automatically booked their tickets to Doha.

In Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, The Bahamas has two of the most talented and dominant 200 and 400m runners in the world. Also, there are a number of significant athletes to put together formidable teams for qualification purposes in all of the relays for the world championships.

The microscope is now on the BAAA. It’s up to that administrative body and national team officials to get the job done, but the window of opportunity is closing. The world relays is now behind us. The question remains: How will The Bahamas respond going forward?

Sheldon Longley

Sports Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting

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