Small number of athletes showed up at nationals

There’s little doubt that there were some fantastic performances at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Senior National Championships in Freeport, Grand Bahama, this past weekend, but the volume of competitors left much to be desired.

A number of events ran as straight finals, and some others three or fewer athletes competing. It was a rather subdued senior nationals, resulting in just one additional qualifier for the Doha World Championships. BAAA President Drumeco Archer said the lack of participation from athletes is something that will be addressed going into an Olympic year. Next year’s nationals will be held in New Providence.

“I would say that the event itself was very competitive, even though we clearly seem to have a deficiency in the pool of athletes who participated. We didn’t have the number of competitors that we would have liked to,” said Archer. “One of the things that we intend to do to address the issue of capacity of our athletic pool is to merge both the junior and senior nationals into a week of activities and get the kind of traction that we need going into an Olympic season. We are limited in naming the trials anything associated with the Olympics, but in the context of it being an Olympic year, I think that it would be a good opportunity to roll out a new approach as to how we deliver the nationals.”

In years past, the event has been dubbed the Olympic Trials in an Olympic Year, but in order for that to continue, that call would have to come from the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) as that body has jurisdiction over all references regarding the word “Olympic” in The Bahamas.

In terms of the senior nationals, this past weekend, a couple of blazing junior national records and an additional qualifying time for the Doha World Championships were the highlights of the meet.

Joel Johnson smashed his own junior national record of 10.31 seconds in the 100 meters (m), running 10.19 seconds in the heats of that event in Freeport. He now sits just outside of the top 10 fastest Bahamians ever, in the 11th spot. Johnson came back and ran just 10.61 seconds for third in the final, but he proved what he could do in the heats when healthy.

Grand Bahamian Terrance Jones ran a blazing 20.43 seconds in the 200m for his first national title. He destroyed Steven Gardiner’s former junior national record of 20.66 seconds, running 20.43 seconds, improving his personal best by more than three-tenths of a second. Jones, 17, is now the ninth-fastest Bahamian ever in that event, and holds on to the world’s fastest time, along with South African Sinesipho Dambile, for a youth (under-18) athlete.

Alonzo Russell was the lone additional qualifier for the world championships, finishing second in the men’s 400m in 45.28 seconds – just off his personal best time of 45.25 seconds. Gardiner was sub-45 again, taking the tape in 44.90 seconds.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo easily won the women’s 400m in 49.59 seconds, and Pedrya Seymour did the same in the women’s 100m hurdles, crossing the finish line in 12.84 seconds. There were a number of other spirited performances.

“In terms of the quality of the performances, I believe we could say that this event was at a very high standard,” said Archer. “The trials were a huge success despite the fact that many thought that Freeport didn’t have the wherewithal to put on the event. In terms of the co-ordination and execution of the event, it was first-class. We were very grateful to the Ministry for Grand Bahama for being a huge supporter financially, together with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.”

Visiting Botswanan teams won both the men and women’s 4x400m relays. Bahamian teams finished second in both, and The Bahamas still holds on to the 16th and final qualifying spot for the Doha World Championships in the men’s 4x400m relay.

“Botswana was formidable in their level of participation and I think they really added value to the event itself,” said Archer. “All in all, I think that we had some really high marks and to summarize it, I would give it a grade of A-.”

All of the aforementioned Bahamian athletes, with the exception of Johnson and Jones, have qualified for the Doha World Championships. The other Bahamian qualifiers are Tynia Gaither (women’s 100/200m), Anthonique Strachan (women’s 200m), Samson Colebrooke (men’s 100m), Donald Thomas (men’s high jump) and Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns (men’s triple jump).

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.

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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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