The former standout Cuban high hurdler Juan Morales once told me that he and his teammates, when preparing for competitions, spent half of their training time frames focusing on baton passing.
Cuba never got blessed with four or more of the world’s 10 fastest sprinters, as was the United States on many occasions throughout modern track and field history. The Bahamas once ago had four of the most dangerous female sprinters in the world in Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis, Debbie Ferguson and Savatheda Fynes, with Eldeece Clarke just a fraction behind them.
Cuba’s relay legacy includes three speed burners with assistance from a high hurdler.
The sprinters from the largest Caribbean island were able to be successful because of keen baton passing, with a high hurdler as the special dimension. At the 1968 Olympic Games; and the 1967, 1971 and 1975 Pan American Games, Cuba was able to challenge the great United States for gold because of intense teamwork rather than total raw speed.
In 1968, it was Hermes Ramirez, (hurdler) Morales, Pablo Montes and Enrique Figuerola running right behind the Americans who had a cadre of sub-10 seconds 100 meters sprinters. The USA team had Charlie Greene (sub-10), Ronnie Ray Smith (sub-10), Mel Pender and Jim Hines (sub-10).
At the 1967 Pan Am Games, Felix Eugelles, Hermes Ramirez, Pablo Montez and Morales were the silver medalists behind the Americans. In 1971, Barbaro Bandomo joined Ramirez, Montes and Morales for another silver.
The new high hurdler on the block, Alejandro Casanas, was on the 1975 Cuban sprint team, with Montes and Ramirez. They got another Pan Am Silver. I refer to the Cubans in relay sprinting because they were the best at maximizing their potential.
In female sprinting we could do the same thing today. This is our era to have success without blazers like Sturrup, Davis, Ferguson and Fynes, to successfully go up against the best of the world.
Like the Cubans did, putting our top female sprint talent together could work some magic at any level of world competition. Admittedly, the road was much easier for the Cubans. They were all continually-based in Cuba, and simply worked out a time schedule to meet for practice.
In our case, the schedules of premier sprinter Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Tynia Gaither, Anthonique Strachan, hurdlers Pedrya Seymour and Devynne Charlton, and one or two others would have to be coordinated in a camp situation, either here at home, or in some U.S. location.
That’s the pathway to the enhancement of our sprint relay legacy.
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