Sports

Gardiner ends season with a win

Running into a headwind on Saturday, Steven Gardiner recorded another comfortable victory, taking the men’s 200 meters (m) at the American Track League Meet #4 on the campus of Life University in Marietta, Georgia.

The 24-year-old Bahamian World Champion picked up yet another victory this shortened season, crossing the finish line in 20.19 seconds on Saturday. He was almost a full second faster than second-place finisher Chris Belcher of the United States. Belcher was second in 21.12 seconds, and Aurel Tchunbi rounded out the top three in 21.57 seconds. Another Bahamian, Cameron Parker, was fourth overall, in 21.79 seconds. Parker also ran in the men’s 100m and was seventh overall in 10.83 seconds. That event was won by American Kendall Williams in 10.29 seconds.

After running a couple of 300m races, setting a new Bahamian national record, and a couple more 200m races, Gardiner said he is bringing this COVID-19 shortened season to a close. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted sports globally this year, and Gardiner is not taking any chances, opting out of the Diamond League season in Europe and Asia.

“I feel comfortable with where I am at,” said Gardiner on Monday. “I felt good about the season. I had some strong performances and I’m grateful to God for that. This was a short season, but the important thing was to come out of it without any injuries and I was able to do that. I’m thankful for that.”

The world champion didn’t compete in any races over 400m this year, but based on the runs he had in the shorter events, he said feels comfortable going into an Olympic year. He has proven to be world-class over 200m as well, and said he is leaving the door open as to what event he will compete in. The postponed Olympics is set for July 23 to August 8, 2021, still in Tokyo, Japan.

Unlike the women’s sprints, there is no major conflict over 200 and 400m for men based on the original Olympic schedule. Gardiner could comfortably compete in both events in Tokyo – an option that is much more difficult for his compatriot Shaunae Miller-Uibo to consider based on how the women’s sprints are scheduled.

According to the original Olympic schedule, the men’s 200m and 400m don’t cross each other on any day of the track segment of the games. As for the women, the first round of the 400m and the final of the 200m are on the same day.

“I can’t say for now what will happen, but I just want to be in shape just in case the possibility of the double does come up,” said Gardiner. “I feel like I’m in good shape. There were some good guys in the race with me this past weekend and I managed to go out there and run well and finish the season healthy and strong. Thanks to everyone who supported me. Even though we are going through a health crisis, I could still feel the support and I thank everyone for that. I just want everyone to stay safe and secured during this time – always wear your mask and practice social distancing. Sanitize at all times and avoid large gatherings.”

Gardiner wasn’t sub-20 again, like he was a week ago in Clermont, Florida, but this time he ran into a slight headwind on the straight.

The Bahamian national record holder in the 200m, 300m and 400m said he is looking forward to another healthy season in 2021, looking to break new barriers. The 2021 season will culminate with the postponed Summer Olympics which will be held in an odd year for the first time.

World Champion Gardiner is yet to make an individual final at the Olympics but is one of the favorites in the men’s 400m, along with world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa, who is making a return after a three-year absence due to injury, and American phenom Michael Norman.

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