Sports

Coe open to world relays returning to The Bahamas

During his time here in The Bahamas over the past few days, World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe gave his support to the world relays one day returning to this country.

The first three editions of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relay Championships, in 2014, 2015 and again in 2017, were held at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium right here in Nassau, The Bahamas. The fourth edition took place in Yokohama, Japan, last year.

In each edition, the United States has won the “Golden Baton” – given to the meet’s overall winner. The world relays, the newest global phenomenon of the IAAF, now World Athletics, has hit the ground running, and The Bahamas played a major role in that. It is now held every two years, and has proven to be one of the most exciting competitions on the World Athletics Series (WAS) calendar.

The fifth edition is set for Silesian Stadium in Chorzów, Poland, from May 1-2, 2021, but Coe certainly didn’t rule out the possibility of it returning to the shores of The Bahamas.

“I would love to see it return – I have always been open to that,” said Lord Coe. “I was hopping that when we first came here a few years ago, that this would become a permanent fixture in the World Athletics calendar for the world relays. I understand the challenges, but we love being here. The fans were enthusiastic and noisy and absolutely passionate about track and field. This is a country that loves track and field. What is there not to like about that?”

Coe was in The Bahamas for the official opening of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Headquarters at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Tuesday. He said that his first visit to The Bahamas was in 1987 as a young athlete for Great Britain, and he has been a regular visitor ever since. He said he looks forward to coming here on a regular basis.

The World Athletics president arrived in The Bahamas on Sunday. On Monday, he met with local athletes and coaches at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium, and delivered a pep talk. On Tuesday morning, he officially opened the NACAC headquarters. Coe left The Bahamas Tuesday evening.

“The Bahamas really helped us get the world relays established. It was a fragile flower and now it has some really strong roots,” he said. “I’m incredibly grateful for the support we had in The Bahamas and I want to see us as a sport come out of the Tokyo Olympic Games as the number one sport in the world. That’s not dismissing the other sports, but we are really what makes the Olympic Games tick. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see the level of commitment that I have seen here tonight. It’s fantastic.”

The commitment that Coe spoke of was that of hundreds of young athletes working out at the stadium with their respective coaches on Monday. They are continuing to prepare for the 2020 athletics season which is already well underway. Already, two local meets have been held at the stadium. Quite a few athletes have opened their seasons and there are a number of CARIFTA qualifiers already.

The 11th running of Marathon Bahamas is set for this Sunday, and the athletics season will continue with the staging of the DTSP (Development of Technique, Speed and Power) Wolfpack Invitational on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

As for the world relays, the venue for the 2023 event is yet to be decided, but Coe said he is certainly not against it returning to The Bahamas. That decision will depend heavily on acceptance of the event by The Bahamas’ government at that time.

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Sheldon Longley

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.

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