TOKYO, Japan – Now that swimming is completed, it’s on to athletics for Team Bahamas at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The Olympics, which was postponed by an entire year due to COVID-19, is being held under a cloud of uncertainty because of the presence of the pandemic.
Be that as it may, anticipation and excitement is brewing, particularly for the start of the athletics competition this Friday, as some of the world’s top stars prepare to grace the track at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo. There are 14 Bahamian athletes competing in the athletics portion of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
For The Bahamas, leading the way are Olympic Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and World Champion Steven Gardiner. Both are entered in two events, the 200 meters (s) and 400 meters at these Olympics.
The last time Miller-Uibo attempted the double (200m and 400m) at a global meet, she won the bronze in the women’s 200m and settled for fourth in the 400m after stumbling in the final 50 meters of that race at the 2017 World Championships in London, England. She is the defending Olympic champion in the women’s 400m and had world-leading times in the 200m in 2019 and again in 2020.
Gardiner has never attempted both events at a single global meet and it is unsure if he will do so this time around, but he is entered in both like Miller-Uibo. Unlike Miller-Uibo, the schedule works out in his favor. Should he run both the 200m and 400m, he wouldn’t have to run two races on the same day like Miller-Uibo.
Joining Gardiner in the men’s 400m for The Bahamas will be Grand Bahamian Alonzo Russell, who qualified for the Olympics based on world ranking points during the qualifying period. Russell will be running in his second straight Olympics for The Bahamas. He was disqualified in the open men’s 400m in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, for a lane infraction, but helped The Bahamas’ men’s 4x400m relay team win a bronze medal in the relay.
Getting The Bahamas started on Friday will be high jumpers Donald Thomas and Jamal Wilson. Former World Champion Thomas qualified through world ranking points and is competing in his fourth straight Olympics for The Bahamas with his best result being a three-way tie for seventh in 2016, clearing 2.29m (7’ 6”). Wilson is back for a second straight Olympics. He finished in a three-way tie for 25th in 2016, clearing 2.22m (7’ 3-1/4”).
The qualifying rounds of the men’s high jump will be held on Friday morning at 9:15 a.m., 8:15 p.m. Thursday night in The Bahamas.
Next up for The Bahamas after the high jumpers will be Tynia Gaither in the opening round heats of the women’s 100m. Gaither, who made the final and finished eighth each time in the women’s 200m at the last two global meets, will be the first athlete on the track for Team Bahamas. Like Miller-Uibo and Gardiner, she is entered in two events here in Tokyo as she qualified for these Olympics in the 200m as well.
The heats of the women’s 100m are set for 12:15 p.m. Friday – 11:15 p.m. on Thursday night in The Bahamas.
The women’s 200m for The Bahamas is garnering the most attention and controversy, as four Bahamians qualified, but only three could run.
Miller-Uibo, a three-time Diamond League Champion in the women’s 200m, is the standard bearer for The Bahamas in that event. Qualifying as well is Brianne Bethel (22.54), Gaither (22.57) and Anthonique Strachan (22.76). The qualifying time for the Olympics in that event was 22.80 seconds.
On Saturday morning (Friday night in The Bahamas), hurdlers Devynne Charlton and Pedrya Seymour will grace the track. Both have qualified for a second straight Olympics. Charlton didn’t get to run five years ago because of a back injury and Seymour went on to finish sixth in the Olympic final, setting a new national record of 12.64 seconds along the way.
Charlton erased that national record this year, running 12.61 seconds at the USATF (USA Track & Field) Golden Games, in Walnut, California, in May. That time would have been good enough for a medal at the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
Both Charlton and Seymour have been consistently under 13 seconds this season.
Samson Colebrooke will get his Olympic Games experience underway with the heats of the men’s 100m on Saturday evening (early Saturday morning in The Bahamas). Colebrooke, taking part in his first Olympics, ran a personal best time of 10.01 seconds in the men’s 100m at the 10th North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18 (U18) and Under-23 (U23) Championships in Querétaro, Mexico, in 2019. He is looking to reclaim prestige for The Bahamas in the men’s sprints.
For the first time since the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, The Bahamas doesn’t have a men’s 4x400m relay team entered at the Olympics. Instead, it’s the women representing The Bahamas this time around.
The team of Doneisha Anderson, Miller-Uibo, Megan Moss and Strachan, in that order, qualified The Bahamas’ women’s 4x400m relay team for the Tokyo Olympics with a run of 3:29.40 at the Blue Marlin Last Chance Meet at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium at the end of June. The team qualified in the 16th and final spot for the Olympics. Added to the pool for the team are Bethel and high school athlete Lacarthea Cooper. The heats of the women’s 4x400m relay are set for the evening of Thursday August 5, in Tokyo.
The women’s 4x400m team is the only relay squad from The Bahamas that qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.