Sports

Strachan runs season’s best again; Gaither picks up a pair of wins

Bahamian Anthonique Strachan is steadily getting back to elite status, producing another thrilling performance in Kingston, Jamaica, this past weekend.

On Saturday, she was respectable in both the women’s 100 and 200 meters (m) at Velocity Fest No. 4 at Jamaica’s National Stadium, and came back a day later on Sunday at the fifth version of the meet this year, and was even more impressive as she ran her fastest time in six years in the women’s half-lapper.

On Saturday, Strachan clocked 11.46 seconds for third in her heat of the 100m and was fifth overall. She won the 200m in 23.58 seconds over Jamaican Samantha Curtis.

Jamaican superstar track and field athletes Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the recently wedded Elaine Thompson-Herah were splendid in the 100m, turning in the two best times in the world this year. 

Fraser-Pryce, a four-time World Champion and two-time Olympic Champion over that distance, won her heat in a blazing 10.87 seconds. Running in another heat, and with less wind, current double sprint Olympic Champion Thompson-Herah was just a hundredth of a second slower, in 10.88. Jamaicans Shashalee Forbes and Natasha Morrison were third and fourth overall respectively, in 11.20 and 11.25 seconds. Strachan, who has been training with the Maximising Velocity and Power (MVP) Track and Field Club in Kingston for the past three years, settled for fifth overall.

The 200m has always been her preferred race, though. On Sunday, about two weeks after posting her fastest time in five years, 22.72 seconds, she improved on that performance, crossing the finish line in a stunning 22.67 seconds. That was her fastest time in the last six years. She was second in her heat behind Thompson-Herah and third overall. Thompson-Herah turned the tables on Fraser-Pryce, taking the overall title in 22.19 seconds – the third-fastest time in the world this year behind Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s world lead of 21.98 seconds and American Sha’Carri Richardson who ran 22 seconds flat on Monday. Running in another heat, Fraser-Pryce was second overall in 22.57 seconds.

Former junior sensation Strachan, the 2012 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Female Rising Star, said she was thrilled with her performances over the weekend.

“I was happy with the performances,” said Strachan. “With the 100 on Saturday, even though I ran that event a lot as a junior, I’m not really a good 100-meter runner. For me, the 100 is like a hit or miss sometimes so I was happy that I was able to run a good race. In the 200 on Sunday, it was exciting to see that I ran 22.6. This year has been a real curveball with COVID-19, but I’m thrilled that I’m able to see an incline in my track and field performances. Elaine and Shelly are competitors. Once it’s a race, they’re coming out there to perform, so having Eliane in the same race with me certainly helped me to get into that mindset to go out there and run fast.”

Meanwhile, Tynia Gaither was impressive at last Thursday’s Back to the Track Series III Meet at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. The Bahamian world 200m finalist in 2017 and again in 2019 won both the 60m and 100m races in Texas.

In the 60m, Gaither crossed the finish line in a personal best time of 7.46 seconds to finish first overall. Running in another heat, American Tianna Bartoletta was second overall in 7.54 seconds. American Kristina Griffin finished third overall in 7.80 seconds.

Gaither won the 100m as well, taking the tape in a wind-aided 11.25 seconds. Olympic relay gold medalist and world record holder Bartoletta was second overall in 11.46 seconds and fellow American Candyce McGrone finished third overall in 11.52 seconds.

As for Strachan, she is coming off a grade two hamstring tear in her right leg from last year’s Doha World Championships, but she hasn’t shown any setbacks in her remarkable recovery. She said there is still a chance that she could go to Europe to compete this season despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel really good. I haven’t had a major injury for the year so I’m thankful for that,” said Strachan. “If I could go out there and run my fastest time in six years, that’s a good feeling and I’m excited for next year.”

Strachan is still looking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games which have been pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The games are now set for July 23 to August 8, still in Tokyo, Japan.

Strachan’s latest results in the women’s 200m certainly would have qualified her for Tokyo, but World Athletics has suspended the qualifying window for the Olympic Games. The qualifying time for the women’s 200m is 22.80 seconds, and the qualifying period will resume on December 1, 2020.

To date, just six Bahamians have qualified for the Olympics – Miller-Uibo in both the women’s 200 and 400m, Steven Gardiner in the men’s 400m, Gaither in the women’s 100 and 200m, Samson Colebrooke in the men’s 100m, Pedrya Seymour in the women’s 100m hurdles and Jamal Wilson in the men’s high jump.

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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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