A couple of junior national records, and an additional qualifying standard for the Doha World Championships, highlighted an otherwise subdued senior nationals at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama, over the weekend.
Elite senior athletes such as Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Steven Gardiner and Pedrya Seymour were special as expected, but turned in as pleasant surprises were the efforts of Joel Johnson, Terrance Jones and Alonzo Russell, just to name a few.
Johnson smashed the junior national record of 10.31 seconds in the 100 meters (m) that he set for CARIFTA gold two years ago. In Freeport on Friday, he ran 10.19 seconds for the new junior national mark…in the heats. He came back in the final and finished third in 10.61 seconds. Abaconian Shavez Hart won his first national title in three years, crossing the finish line in 10.44 seconds. Teray Smith was second in 10.46 seconds, and Johnson settled for third. Blake Bartlett ran a personal best time of 10.29 seconds in the heats, but he, too, disappeared in the final, running 10.69 seconds for fifth. Cliff Resias was fourth in 10.67 seconds after running 10.55 seconds in the heats.
The other junior national record at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Senior National Championships over the weekend came from Freeport native Terrance Jones in the 200m. He destroyed Gardiner’s former junior national record of 20.66 seconds, running 20.43 seconds for his first senior national title.
The stunning time ties South African Sinesipho Dambile for the fastest time in the world this year by a youth (under-18) athlete and is just outside of the senior world championships qualifying mark of 20.40 seconds. It also ties for the second-fastest time by a junior (under-20) athlete this year. At just 17-years-old, Jones remarkably still has two more years left as a junior athlete.
“I just wanted to get a good reaction from the start of the gun, and I feel I was able to do that. Coming off the curve, I know I had to go hard and bring it all home. I just fight and fight and fight and brought it home. It feels good,” said the young Grand Bahamian after the race. He now has blazing personal best times of 20.43 seconds in the 200m and 46.29 seconds in the 400m. He ran the latter for the under-20 boys gold medal at the CARIFTA Games in George Town, Cayman Islands, this year.
Smith was second in that 200m final at the nationals in 20.67 seconds, and Anthony Adderley finished third in 21.06 seconds.
The men’s 400m lived up its billing as Gardiner was sub-45 again, and he pulled Russell along under the Doha World Championships qualifying standard. Gardiner won in 44.90 seconds. Russell dipped below the world championships qualifying standard of 45.30 seconds, finishing second in 45.28 seconds. He was also just off his personal best time of 45.25 seconds. Kinard Rolle was third in 47.13 seconds and “Golden Knight” Ramon Miller – the 2012 London Olympics hero for The Bahamas – finished fourth in 47.32 seconds.
“It was a pretty good race for me and I’m happy with it,” said 200-400m national record holder Gardiner. “The weather here is super humid, but you just have to stay hydrated. My coach and I had a plan to just run the race like the rounds in Doha. It’s always good to have more than one person out there, so congratulations to him (Russell) for qualifying.”
Russell said he’s just looking to continue improving.
“I came here looking to get a win, and I came up a bit short, but I’m happy with the performance and I’m happy for Steven Gardiner,” Russell told The Freeport News. “He (Gardiner) has been performing well all season and he pushed me today. I just give God thanks for being able to qualify for the world championships. To come here and run a season’s best time and qualify for the world championships at the same time, I’m grateful.”
The 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships is set for September 27 to October 6 at the renovated, multi-purpose Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Previously qualifying for the world championships, and doing so again at the nationals over the weekend, was national record holder in the women’s 100m hurdles Pedrya Seymour. She won in 12.84 seconds. Devynne Charlton was second in 13.16 seconds, and Jamaican Shermaine Williams, the sister of former world champion and the number one hurdler in the world this year Danielle Williams, crossed the finish line in third place at the nationals, as a guest, in 13.17 seconds.
“I feel pretty good. I just wanted to come here and win. The home crowd gets to see us on TV but they don’t get to see us run up close and personal, so it’s good that they were able to see us compete at home, and particularly good for Grand Bahamians,” said Seymour. “The event is growing. I feel good to know that I’m the first Bahamian athlete to be doing what I’m doing now in the hurdles – in the Diamond League and in the Olympic final. It’s an honor to be able to do that but I want to see others come up and do well also. I wasn’t a good junior athlete but I started to do well in college and now I’m doing well as a pro, so I want to give others hope. You don’t have to do well in high school in order to succeed. I worked hard and I persevered.”
Seymour broke through in the 100m hurdles as a junior for the University of Illinois in 2016. She shocked the world that year with a series of sub 13-second races and set the national record of 12.64 seconds in a span of just four months after shifting from the 400m hurdles. She went on to finish sixth in the Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 12.76 seconds, becoming the first Bahamian, male or female, to advance to an Olympic final in any hurdles event. Seymour, who trains out of Austin, Texas, under the watchful eyes of Coach Edrick Floréal, and alongside top global hurdlers such as world record holder Kendra Harrison of the United States and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico, has a season’s best time of 12.78 seconds.
“It’s hard – it’s a lot more work, but he (Floréal) is training me to be ready and a well-rounded athlete,” said Seymour. “It’s a different program but I feel like I’ll be ready for the big meets because I’m training with the best and I get to see what she (Harrison) does and how she trains. Every day is like an Olympic final, training with her (Harrison), and just training with the best of the best. I feel like I’m prepared.”
The women’s 400m was a cakewalk for Bahamian Olympic Champion Miller-Uibo. She won easily in 49.59 seconds. Miriam Byfield was a distant second in 57.30 seconds, and Breanna Pratt crossed the finish line in third place in 1:02.28.
“First of all, I just want to give God thanks for finishing the race healthy,” said Miller-Uibo. “I love coming home and competing, and the crowd here in Grand Bahama is awesome, so I just want to say thank you for coming out and supporting us. We really appreciate it. I’m in great shape and having a lot of fun right now, so I’m very happy. It’s all about coming home and putting on a great show, and I’m just thankful that I was able to do that.”
Stying and profiling with aquamarine hair, Miller-Uibo said that she is just having fun with the hairstyles that have become her trademark on the world athletics tour, and just looking to entertain the crowd. She said that she changes the color of her hair from meet-to-meet to go along with her personality.
Anthonique Strachan pulled off the sprint-double, winning the 100m in a season’s best time of 11.45 seconds, and taking the 200m in 23.23 seconds. Tynia Gaither was second in the 100m in 11.49 seconds, and Alexis Gray finished third in 11.96 seconds. Gray was second in the 200m in 24.15seconds.
“It (100m time) was a season’s best time for me and I felt pretty good about it. I just wanted to put on a show here in Freeport, because I haven’t run here in a while,” said Strachan. “I’m just trying to gradually improve and I could see that happening.”
Strachan’s season best time in the 200m is 22.81 seconds – her fastest time over that distance since 2015. She returns to New Providence and then leaves for Lima, Peru, on Friday to compete for The Bahamas at the 18th Pan American Games.
There were a few other notable performances at the nationals in Freeport over the weekend.
National record holder in the men’s 400m hurdles Jeffery Gibson won that event in 50.71 seconds. Eleutheran Andre Colebrooke finished second in 52.23 seconds, and Kamrinn King was third in 1:05.10. Gibson was also voted in as the new national athletes representative over the weekend, replacing “Superman” Leevan Sands.
Trevor Barry won the men’s high jump with a clearance of 2.20m (7’ 2-1/2”). Jamal Wilson cleared 2.15m (7’ 0-1/2”) for second, and Ryan Ingraham finished third, clearing 2.10m (6’ 10-1/2”).
Kaiwan Culmer won the men’s triple jump with a leap of 15.61m (51’ 2-3/4”), and Lathone Collie-Minns was second with a leap of 15.35m (50’ 4-1/2”).
Androsian Tamara Myers was the lone competitor in the women’s triple jump, and she won that event with a leap of 13.40m (43’ 11-3/4”).
The Bahamas had two relay teams in action. The women’s 4x400m relay squad finished second to a visiting Botswanan team in 3:55.84. Botswana ran 3:38.79 for the win. Botswana’s men’s 4x400m relay team won in 3:03.33. The Bahamas’ “A” team finished second in 3:05.84, and The Bahamas’ “B” team finished third in 3:09.44.
“The LOC (Local Organizing Committee) did an excellent job for putting the nationals together and they must be applauded for their efforts – it was a well-run meet,” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BAAA Mabeline Miller. “Overall, I think it was a very successful meet and it was a good showing by all of the athletes who competed. Everyone did their best, and it shows that once we come together, we could achieve anything.”
Team Bahamas is still holding onto the 16th and final qualifying spot for the Doha World Championships in the men’s 4x400m relay – a time of 3.01:92 for the silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Individually, a total of 10 Bahamians have qualified for the Doha World Championships – Gaither (women’s 100/200m), Strachan (women’s 200m), Miller-Uibo (women’s 200/400m), Seymour (women’s 100m hurdles), Samson Colebrooke (men’s 100m), Gardiner (men’s 200/400m), Russell (men’s 400m), Donald Thomas (men’s high jump) and Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns (men’s triple jump).