Sports

Gaither through to 200m final; Strachan pulls up

DOHA, Qatar – For the second world championships in a row, Tynia Gaither is into the final of the women’s 200m, and this time she said she’s going after a medal and a personal best time.

The Bahamian compact sprinter minced no words when asked what was her goal for the final – “A personal best and I want to be on that podium… period,” she said. Given how she has performed so far, who could doubt her?

She ran two rounds of the 100m on Saturday and Sunday, and now has made it through two rounds of the 200m as these 17th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships continue at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Gaither matched her season’s best time from the heats, 22.57 seconds, in finishing second to American Brittany Brown in her semifinal heat yesterday. Brown won in 22.46 seconds after running a personal best time of 22.33 seconds in the heats, and Gaither just out-leaned Ivet Lalova-Collio, of Bulgaria, at the finish line to grab the second automatic qualifying spot for the final out of that heat. Lalova-Collio was timed in 22.58 seconds, but still qualified for the final based on time.

The news wasn’t as good for the other Bahamian sprinter in the race, Anthonique Strachan. She appeared to suffer a hamstring injury about 50 meters from the finish line. She limped across the finish line in 25.44 seconds, and had to be taken to the medical room afterwards. Up to press time, there was no word on her condition.

Gaither, on the other hand, was pleased to make another final at the world championships. She was eighth in the final in London, England, two years ago, in 23.07 seconds.

“I’m very excited to be in this field for the final with those amazing ladies. It’s a blessing,” she said. “To do it for a second time is awesome. God is good. I knew I had to start well tonight and make them chase me and I feel like I was able to do that.

“I did the best I could getting off the curve and just got technical on the home stretch. I feel like my finish has come a long way – the way I was able to hold that form coming home. That was important to me. The plan is to go out there and do it even better in the final.”

Dina Asher-Smith, of Great Britain, was the top qualifier for the final, winning her semifinal heat in 22.16 seconds. A couple of Americans followed her as Brown was the second-fastest qualifier, and Anglerne Annelus was the third-fastest qualifier, running 22.49 seconds. Mujinga Kambundji, of Switzerland, also ran 22.49 seconds to qualify, American National Champion Dezerea Bryant qualified fifth overall in 22.56 seconds, and Gaither was the sixth-fastest qualifier, in 22.57 seconds. Lalova-Collio and Gina Bass, of Gambia, will round out the field in the final. Bass ran 22.60 seconds.

In matching her time from the heats, Gaither was just three one hundredths of a second off her personal best time. She said once she came off the curve, she just told herself to push as hard as she could coming home.

“I just said to myself, ‘stay in your lane and run’. I just wanted to keep that momentum for as long as I could. I got technical and just brought it home,” she said. “I’m starting to feel it a little bit after running for four straight days, but there is just one more at this point, so for me, it’s all mental right now. No matter how my body feels, my mind is in control right now.”

She failed to make it to the 100m final after finishing fifth in her semifinal heat in that event on Sunday, but now she is into her second consecutive final in the women’s 200m at the world championships. With Shaunae Miller-Uibo breezing through to the final of the women’s 400m on Tuesday, and Steven Gardiner gliding into the semifinals of the men’s 400m, Gaither said she likes how Team Bahamas is coming together and responding to pressure.

“Shaunae looks amazing. This is going to be a good championship season for us. We’re small but we’re mighty. I could feel something beautiful coming on,” she said.

The 26-year-old Bahamian sprinter has run her two best times of the season, and two of the top three times in her career, in the women’s 200m at these world championships. She is poised to go even faster in the final.

Pan Am Games’ bronze medalist Gaither has been consistently under 23 seconds this season. She feels that the setting is right for her to go 22-low or even faster in the final.

The field is wide open for a medal as Jamaican eight-time World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who just ran a world-leading 10.71 seconds for the gold medal in the women’s 100m on Sunday night, and Bahamian world leader Miller-Uibo who chose to contest the women’s 400m at these world championships as opposed to the shorter race, are both out of the mix. Also, 100m bronze medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, of the Ivory Coast, and two-time World Champion Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, pulled out.

Be that as it may, Gaither said she is focused on her lane and doing what she needs to do to get on the medal stand. If successful, it would be her first medal at the world championships.

The women’s 200m final is set for tonight at 10:35 p.m. local time here in Doha, 3:35 p.m. back in The Bahamas.

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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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