DOHA, Qatar – The women’s 200 meters (m) is the only event of the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships in which three Bahamians qualified, and two of the three will go after a spot in the semis today.
Tynia Gaither and Anthonique Strachan are both listed to take part in the opening round heats of the women’s 200m here at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. The other Bahamian to have qualified, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, decided to skip the 200m and focus solely on the 400m at these world championships. The two events are packed too close together here in Doha for her to attempt both.
In the case of Gaither, she is a finalist in this event from the last world championships in London, England, and won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games this year.
The 26-year-old Bahamian sprinter has a personal best time of 22.54 seconds that was done during the collegiate season three years ago and a season’s best time of 22.69 seconds. After running the 100m on Saturday and Sunday, she said she is tacking the longer race as a fun event and just looking to do her best.
Gaither has split time between the two this year, looking to experience success in both. She was eighth in the 200m final in London in 23.07 seconds after running 22.98 seconds and 22.85 seconds in the rounds. She ended her competition in the 100m at these world championships on Sunday, finishing fifth in her semifinal heat in 11.20 seconds. She ended up tied for 13th overall, failing to advance to the final.
“The 200 has been my better event for years but my 100 is getting there. I’m still learning the 100, but the 200 is my favorite event,” she said. “I expect to win a medal (in the 200m) so I’m going to go out there and definitely finish with a bang. The 100 definitely woke me up and I’ll be ready to go in the 200,” she added.
The other Bahamian lining up in the women’s 200m, Strachan, also 26, is optimistic given the resurgent year she has had in track and field. This year, she has run her fastest time in the 200m in four years, clocking 22.81 seconds at the IAAF Diamond League Meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The former double sprint World Junior Champion appears to be on the comeback trail, gradually getting back to the form that she once showed and the promise she exhibited as a junior athlete when she won numerous national and regional titles and broke many records.
After winning double gold at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships, and triple gold at CARIFTA that year, she was named as the IAAF Female Rising Star of the Year for 2012. She is gradually bouncing back to form.
“I feel very confident in my abilities right now,” she said. “I’m just trying to take everything one round at a time and try my best. It’s really hot out there but that’s better than running in cold weather so I’m trying to be really positive about it.
“I just feel like I have to go out there and run fast. Once I create a race strategy and follow it through, I think I’ll be fine. The main thing I have to do is get out to a good start. Once I’m able to do that, I think I’ll be fine.”
Strachan’s start has always been her weakness. That along with injuries have halted her progression from a promising young junior athlete to a star on the elite level. She has some of the best top-end speed in the world once she gets going, but by the time she is at full throttle, her main competitors would already be significantly ahead of her.
Strachan said she is trying to rectify that, or at least make some improvement in that area at these world championships. With her coach by her side here at these world championships, she is confident that she will receive the correct instructions and put her best foot forward.
Strachan is coached by world-renowned sprints coach Stephen Francis of the MVP Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica.
“My coach knows me better than the Bahamian coaches do, so I’m very happy to have him here with me to help me get through the rounds,” she said. “I’m sure he will have me running at my best, and I’m looking forward to getting through the rounds and having a good performance. Overall, the team is in great spirits. Right now, we’re just bonding together and supporting each other,” she added.
Gaither and Strachan will have to be among the top three finishers in their respective heats to automatically qualify for Tuesday’s semifinals.
If both are at their best, they should have no problem moving on to the next round.