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Relay aspect of Bahamian world 400m prominence in jeopardy

In the open 400 meters (m), The Bahamas remains among the hierarchy countries of the world. Steven Gardiner is the current International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Champion. Shaunae Miller-Uibo is the reigning Olympic Champion and also the second-place finisher from the recent IAAF World Championships.

We’ve had fantastic relay (men’s 1600m) successes for very close to a full two decades, but that’s a shaky area now because of a lack of quality depth in 400m sprinters.

Almost a quarter of a century ago, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, via Pauline Davis-Thompson, made a breakthrough in the 400m. She won the 1995 IAAF World Championships silver medal for the women’s 400m. Davis-Thompson was the Bahamian forerunner for excellence over one lap against the best in the world, with her second-place finish. Five years later, in 2000, Chris Brown began his long career of superb relay running by teaming up with Avard Moncur, Troy McIntosh and Carl Oliver to win the bronze at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Moncur would win the open 400 at the IAAF World Championships the following year, and then lead Brown, McIntosh, Oliver and Tim Munnings to the relay gold medal (second on the track but promoted to gold via a doping violation by the Americans).

What followed for The Bahamas, were glorious individual successes, and 1600m men’s relay consistency that made a nation proud. The Bahamas became a power broker in world 400m running.

Tonique Williams reigned as 400m Olympic Champion (2004) and World Champion (2005) simultaneously. Moncur and Gardiner became the book ends for world’s men’s champions in the event 2001-2019.

Various runners, with names such as LaToy Williams, Demetrius Pinder, Andrae Williams, Gardiner, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu, with Brown as the one constant, all the way up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, won in addition to medals from 2000 and 2001, Olympic 1600 men’s relay gold, silver and bronze hardware; two World Championships silver and a bronze; two IAAF World Relays medals; one IAAF World Relays mixed 1600m gold; Commonwealth Games medals; a Pan Am Games gold; World Indoor silver; and Central American and Caribbean Championships medals. Individual successes punctuated the performances for The Bahamas at the non-Olympic and non-World Championships events.

We are still regarded as a power nation over 400m, thanks to Gardiner and Miller-Uibo. The outlook for the once noted Bahamian men’s 1600m relay product is not good at all, at this point, though.

Outside of Gardiner, presently competing, just one other Bahamian male sprinter has proven capable of running under 46 seconds consistently. Alonzo Russell has done it every year as of 2015 up to now, with a career personal best of 45.25 seconds. He would have to peak at the right time and several others need to get to his level or better, for any realistic medal chances to further embellish the Bahamian men’s 1600m relay legacy.

Gardiner has negotiated the one lap at 43.48, making him the sixth-fastest ever, but he will need at least another 44 seconds runner or a couple of 45s to be in medal contention in the men’s 1600m relay at the big world meets. At the moment, to put it bluntly, we’re not there.

While there is hope because of our 400m DNA, it surely appears that the relay aspect of the Bahamian 400m prominence is in jeopardy.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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