Sports

Fourth in the world!

Otabor has personal best, junior national record-setting throw in girls’ javelin

After a massive personal best throw in the second round of competition on Thursday, Bahamian junior sensation Rhema Otabor sat in the bronze medal position in the girls’ javelin at the world’s biggest meet for juniors, but had to settle for fourth overall at the completion of the event.

Otabor turned in a junior national record throw of 55.08 meters (m) – 180’ 8” – to finish fourth overall, just outside of the medal picture, in the girls’ javelin at the World Athletics (WA) World Under-20 (U20) Championships. The five-day event is currently ongoing at the Kasarani Stadium inside the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Cuban Yiselena Ballar Rojas passed Otabor with a throw of 55.13m (180’ 10”) in the third round, and then padded her lead with a 55.48m (182’) toss in the fifth round.

Adriana Vilagoš, of Serbia, won the gold medal with a world under-20 leading toss of 61.46m (201’ 7”). All six of her throws were over 55m (180’ 5”) and five of the six were over 58m (190’ 3”). Elina Tzengko, of Greece, won the silver medal, turning in a best throw of 59.60m (195’ 6”). Rojas held on for the bronze, and Otabor settled for fourth.

“I was pretty happy with my performance. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but I still ended up with a new PB (personal best throw) and I couldn’t be happier about that,” said Otabor. “I was pretty relaxed and calm for the most part. It felt amazing competing at this world championships. I was really honored to represent The Bahamas. From last year, it was a goal for me to make the team, so being able to do that and then come out here and compete today was amazing.”

Coming into the global meet, Otabor’s previous best throw was 55.06m (180’ 7”), done for the gold medal in the under-20 girls’ division at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-18 (U18), Under-20 (U20) and Under-23 (U23) Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, in July.

“This was the longest and most memorable season so far and I was really happy with it,” said Otabor, who will be going into her sophomore year for the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers in Miami, Florida. “Next year, I am looking forward to hitting more and more PBs and continually progressing. Hopefully, I could get into the 60s, qualify for more international meets, and do better than I did this year.”

In 2022, Otabor will no longer be a junior, but said she is looking forward to qualifying for the senior world championships, which is set for July 15-24, 2022, at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. The qualifying mark for the women’s javelin for that event is 64m flat (209’ 11”), or athletes could qualify based on World Athletics Rankings, or receive wildcard entries, which are awarded to reigning world champions or 2021 Diamond League winners. The deadline for qualifying for the 2022 World Athletics (WA) World Championships is midnight on June 26, 2022.

As for the world juniors, Otabor was the only member of Team Bahamas in action yesterday.

On tap for today, for Bahamians, are the heats of the boys’ 110m hurdles featuring Antoine Andrews, the qualifying rounds of the girls’ long jump featuring Alexis Tilford-Rutherford, the heats and semifinals of the boys’ and girls’ 200m, and the final of the boys’ javelin featuring junior and senior national record holder in that event Keyshawn Strachan. Strachan had a qualifying throw of 68.85m (225’ 10”) on Wednesday. His personal best throw is 72.13m (236’ 8”).

In the hurdles, Andrews ran out of lane three in the third of four first-round heats at 3:09 a.m. Friday, Eastern Standard Time (EST) here in The Bahamas. The first three in each heat and the next four fastest times advance to the semifinals, which is set for 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Tilford-Rutherford will be the ninth jumper in Group ‘B’ in the qualifying rounds of the girls’ long jump. That event got underway at 3:55 a.m. Friday. The 12 best jumpers or an automatic qualifying distance of 6.35m (20’ 10”) will constitute a spot in Sunday’s final.

Camille Rutherford and Lacarthea Cooper will represent The Bahamas in the girls’ 200m. Rutherford ran out of lane two in the fourth of five first-round heats at 4:21 a.m. Friday, and Cooper ran out of lane eight in the fifth of five first-round heats at 4:28 a.m. Friday. Just the top four in each heat and the next four fastest times advanced to the semifinals, which are set for 9:40 a.m. Friday.

In the boys’ 200m, Wendell Miller ran out of lane six in the second of five first-round heats at 4:47 a.m. Friday, and Carlos Brown Jr. ran out of lave seven in fourth of five first-round heats at 5:01 a.m. Friday. The top four in each heat and the next four fastest times advanced to the semifinals, which are set for 10:05 a.m. Friday.

Finally, for The Bahamas on Friday, Strachan competes in the boys’ javelin final. Strachan will be the fifth thrower in the final, which takes place 7:20 a.m. Friday.

On Saturday will be the boys’ 4x100m heats, the boys’ 110m hurdles final, and the boys’ and girls’ 200m finals. The five-day meet is set to wrap up on Sunday.

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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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