Sports

The Nassau Guardian’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year

Steven Gardiner culminated the year with one of the greatest single performances in the history of sports in the country, and was consequently voted as The Nassau Guardian’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year for 2019.

He is now a world champion, and was a unanimous selection for the top senior male honor by The Nassau Guardian’s sports team.

The talented and graceful sprinter became just the second Bahamian world champion in the men’s 400 meters (m), joining another towering giant, Avard Moncur, who accomplished the feat in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001. Gardiner, who broke his own national record at the world championships, is now the fastest Caribbean man ever, and the sixth fastest of all time in that event worldwide. He glided around the track in 43.48 seconds in the men’s 400m final at the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Doha, Qatar, finishing off an unbeaten year for him in that event.

Gardiner, 24, wasn’t the pre-event favorite, taking a back seat to a couple of Americans who had both ran faster times this season. Reference is to Michael Norman and Fred Kerley who went into the world championships with season’s and personal best times of 43.45 and 43.64 seconds respectively. Even former World and Olympic Champion Kirani James, of Grenada, who was running in just his second meet of the year, figured to be in the running for the world title in Doha.

Gardiner shook it off, moving swiftly through the rounds. After Norman went out in the semifinals with an unspecified injury, the door was wide open for Gardiner to walk through. He came through in flying colors, recording the fastest qualifying time in the semis, and then dismantling the field in the final, winning by more than half of a second.

He became the sixth Bahamian world outdoor champion in athletics, and along with Shaunae Miller-Uibo, is tied as the highest ranking Bahamian ever in the history of athletics.

The sky is the limit for Gardiner. He won nine out of 10 events this year, with his only setback being a second place finish in the men’s 200m at the Star Athletics Sprint Series, in Montverde, Florida, in June. Battling tendinitis in his Achilles’ heel early in the season, which kept him out of the world relays and the Shanghai Diamond League Meet, Gardiner worked on getting healthy for the world championships.

He proved that he was in fine form in Doha – easily advancing through the rounds and running faster than he ever has, in the final.

In the National Basketball Association (NBA) Chavano “Buddy” Hield had his best year as a professional and finished second in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year for 2019. Hield, 27, averaged 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Sacramento Kings – career-high numbers in all three in his four years in the league. It was a vast improvement from the previous season’s stat line of 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest.

This season, Hield is off to a similar start – averaging 20.3 points, five rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Last season, he finished fourth in the entire league in made three-pointers with 278 which was a new franchise record and the seventh-most prolific performance from downtown in a season in NBA history. This season, he is on pace to surpass that total, averaging a career-high 3.7 made three pointers per game. Houston Rockets’ guard James Harden (378), Golden State Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry (354) and Los Angeles Clippers’ forward Paul George (292) were the only players to hit more three-pointers than Hield last season.

DeAndre Ayton, 21, finished third in voting for the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award last season, and was third in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year for 2019. As a rookie, he averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, and posted a Suns’ rookie record of 39 double-doubles. Ayton had 18 points and 10 rebounds in his professional debut, and just continued putting up impressive numbers as the season went along.

Ayton started almost every game at center for the Suns. He was the only rookie in the league to average a double-double, and was just the third player in the league in the past decade to average a double-double in their rookie season, joining NBA All-Star players Blake Griffin and Karl-Anthony Towns. Ayton was also voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and finished with one of the highest field goal percentages among rookies in the history of the league. He led the Suns in rebounding, was second on the team in field goal percentage and third in scoring.

Finishing fourth in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year for 2019 was professional boxer Tureano Johnson and rounding out the top five was soccer player Lesley St. Fleur.

The full breakdown of points for junior male athletes in The Bahamas as voted on by The Nassau Guardian’s sports team is listed with this article.

Senior Male Scores

1st – Steven Gardiner (athletics) – 45 points

2nd – Chavano “Buddy” Hield (basketball) – 42 points

3rd – DeAndre Ayton (basketball) – 39 points

4th – Tureano Johnson (boxing) – 35 points

5th – Lesley St. Fleur (soccer) – 29 points

6th – Jasrado Chisholm (baseball) – 25 points

7th – Samson Colebrooke (athletics) – 24 points

8th – Michael Strachan (football) – 19 points

9th – Alonzo Russell (athletics) – 17 points

10th – Charles Reckley (bodybuilding & fitness) – 15 points

11th – Amron Sands (boxing) – 11 points

11th – Justin Roberts (tennis) – 11 points

13th – Donald Thomas (athletics) – 9 points

13th – Lucius Fox (baseball) – 9 points

15th – Jyles Etienne (athletics) – 7 points

Others receiving votes: Baker Newman (tennis) – 6, Dwayne Whylly (soccer) – 4, Chris Ferguson (football) – 3, Kevin Major Jr. (tennis) – 3, Chavez Young (baseball) – 2 and D’Shon Taylor (basketball) – 1.

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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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