Prominent presence for 2019 IAAF World Relays advocated

Sports Scope is currently on vacation for the Christmas season and will return in the new year. During this time, The Nassau Guardian will feature a few Sports Scope columns from the past.

The Bahamas will not be hosting the fourth edition of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world relays set for 2019, but being synonymous with the first three events dictates, I believe, that we should strive to have a strong presence in Yokohama, Japan, next May 11-12.

It is accepted worldwide that the IAAF World Relays became, from the outset, very significant to The Bahamas’ sports brand. Proof of the high regard for The Bahamas’ hosting of the 2014, 2015 and 2017 world relays came from the president of the athletics federation in Japan.

Hiroshi Yokokawa, importantly, pointed out the “footprints on the history of athletics” cemented by being the anchor nation (The Bahamas) for the world relays during the embryonic years. Without a doubt also, it is quite understandable why IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe takes delight in pointing out the “key role” played by The Bahamas “in establishing the world relays as a successful competition”.

Such a celebrated background begs, I think, a notable presence by The Bahamas in Japan next year.

We are the defending championship nation in the 1,600 meters mixed relay. Steven Gardiner, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Anthonique Strachan and Michael Mathieu combined to give The Bahamas its first gold medal at the world relays last year.

There are five months before the 2019 world relays in Yokohama. The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) thus is challenged to go all out to put together the best representative team possible. The Bahamas must show up well in Japan. The view here is that the world relays event is so significant for this country, a strong effort should be made to gather our prime relay prospects and provide them with an appropriate preparation forum.

In the past, we just did the match-ups from the athletes who were available and properly trained at world relays time. This time around, there should be a much greater effort to fortify Team Bahamas with athletes best capable of linking the relay legs with medal efficiency. In fact, the BAAA should immediately, or very soon, select the coaching squad and begin the networking to determine the finest relay legs combinations.

Then, athletes should be contacted, with a view to putting together a camp, leading up to the world relays.

The necessity of a focus on baton passing should not be downplayed or approached casually. The primary events for The Bahamas, in my view, will be the 1,600 meters mixed and the women’s 4×100 meters sprint relays. The men’s 1,600 meters squads have been up and down in recent times.

A gold medal repeat would be an excellent way for The Bahamas to enhance its world relays legacy. An additional medal would be the icing on the cake.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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