COVID-19 is still rampant throughout the world, particularly in the United States, but the sports world is remaining active, as athletes everywhere try to maintain some fitness.
The Bahamas’ two most high-profiled track and field athletes got on the track, in separate locations, each winning their respective events.
For World Champion Steven Gardiner, the pride and joy of Murphy Town in the Abacos, it was a new national record at the V12 Summer Games at Santa Fe High School in Alachua, Florida, on Saturday. A week after running 31.95 seconds in the 300 meters (m) at the 2nd Annual B3R Sports Invitational, Gardiner returned to the same undersized track and posted a time of 31.83, taking down Chris Brown’s national record of 31.91 seconds that was done 13 years ago.
Representing Adidas, Gardiner took control of the race coming off the bend and cruised into the tape about three strides ahead of his closest competitor. Asa Guevara, from Trinidad & Tobago, was second in 32.60 seconds, and American Quantavious Poole rounded out the top three in 33.48 seconds. The only other athlete in the race, Evan Miller, representing the Speed Starz Track/Running Club, was fourth in 35.44 seconds.
It was just Gardiner’s second race of the season as athletes throughout the world continue to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to workout on grass and in nearby parks over the past three and a half months, Gardiner proved that he was able to maintain fitness at a time when the world is turned upside down.
He became just The Bahamas’ third world champion in the men’s 400m last year, blazing to victory in Doha, Qatar, in 43.48 seconds. It was a new national record and made him the sixth-fastest in history.
Now competing in what has turned out to be an off year, following the postponement of the Olympics, Gardiner showed why he is one of the top quarter-milers in the world and a threat for the Olympic title next year. The Olympics has been pushed back to July 23 to August 8, still in Tokyo, Japan.
He said last week that he feels healthy and strong and is just
looking to stay injury-free for the remainder of the year and heading into the Olympics.
“I feel pretty good. I’m as healthy as a horse – a young horse. I feel like I’m on course,” he said. “I just have to keep going and try to stay occupied during this time. This is now an off year, so I’m going to mix it up a bit – just do a li’l bit of everything. The main focus right now is just to stay in shape and stay healthy.
“My goal is to win the Olympics in the 400, and then branch off from there – whether it’s continue running the 400 or move down to the 200 or do both, but the main goal is to win the 400 at the Olympics. Then, maybe I’ll dip into another event.”
Gardiner now holds the national records in the 200, 300 and 400m outdoors, and is just looking to stay sharp heading into the Olympics.
Not to be outdone, the other half of the dynamic Bahamian track duo, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, cruised to victory at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, on Saturday – about an hour-and-a-half car ride to the south from where Gardiner competed.
Miller-Uibo earned the double, winning the women’s 200 and 400m. In the 200m, she clocked a modest 22.61 seconds, winning easily over a pair of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Champions. Georgia Bulldogs standout Lynna Irby, of the United States, finished second in 23.06 seconds and fellow American Shacarri Richardson, who entered the professional ranks last year, was third in 23.14 seconds.
In the women’s 400m, Miller-Uibo again cruised to victory, winning in 50.52 seconds. Despite the modest time, she was more than a second faster than American Kaylin Whitney who settled for second in 51.99 seconds. Canadian Carline Muir finished third in 53.26 seconds.
A number of World and Olympic Champions, past and present, were in action in Montverde as American Christian Taylor won the men’s triple jump, American LaShawn Merritt settled for third in the men’s 400m and Noah Lyles outdueled Justin Gatlin in the men’s 100m.
For Miller-Uibo, it’s been basically the same way of life as Gardiner since the arrival of COVID-19 – training from home and using grass and parks until tracks recently opened. The Bahamian Olympic Champion will be back in action again this week, competing against American legendary sprinter Allyson Felix and Switzerland’s world bronze medalist Mujinga Kambundji in the women’s 150m, in a series of clashes between the United States, Europe and the rest of the world, in an event dubbed Weltklasse Zürich Inspiration Games.
The event will feature 30 track and field superstars competing in eight disciplines in an innovative team event across seven stadiums and three continents on Thursday. Miller-Uibo will compete out of Miramar, Florida; Felix will line up in the blocks in Walnut, California; and Kambundji will burst out of the blocks in Zurich, Switzerland.