A trio of Bahamian athletes are among those who have taken advantage of the use of the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium since Prime Minster Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that “professional athletes” will be allowed to train as a provision in the Emergency Powers COVID-19 Orders.
Jamal Wilson is in a three-way tie for the number one jump in the world in the men’s high jump in this shortened season. He said it’s a blessing.
“Coming back to work has been like how anyone feels going back to work. Everyone, during these times, don’t have the opportunity to get out of their house to do what they love to do. To do it is a blessing, but, more importantly, to come out here and see everybody extremely motivated to put in work is a blessing. I think that’s an even bigger blessing, not for myself, but for the individual and the entire country,” Wilson said.
Back in February, Wilson was close to qualifying for the 2020 World Athletics (WA) World Indoor Championships, which has now been postponed to next year, when he cleared 2.33 meters (m) – 7’ 7-3/4”. The qualifying height is 2.34m (7’ 8-1/4”). The 2.33m jump was a personal best for him.
Wilson said that the provision to them as professional athletes, in phase 1b of the country’s re-opening plan, is motivation for athletes to want to excel. He said that it has been difficult transitioning from training at his home to the national facilities, but they are taking it one step at a time.
“We are still taking our time and easing our way into work and not just jumping into it head-first. We still do not know what the schedules look like going forward. Right now, we are just taking it one step at a time. It is a building process and we are in the middle of the process,” Wilson said.
Stephen “Dirty” Newbold was gearing up to make a run at the 2020 Olympic Games, but that has been postponed to 2021. He said it was difficult training at home and is glad that the facilities were opened.
“I’m very happy to be back on the track,” Newbold said. “I just want to thank them for opening up the facilities. It’s hard training from home when you are a track athlete and your body demands the rubber surface of the track. It’s pretty hard to keep doing the conditioning stuff when you know at this point in the season, you’re supposed to be doing speed. I’d just like to particularly thank them for opening up the track.”
Newbold was a member of the 4x200m relay team for The Bahamas at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan. That team finished second in heat one of that event but was disqualified in the final.
Newbold, who had a strong junior career, added that there was a point of doubt as to when they were going to be on the track again. He said that while at home, he was doing a lot of skipping and running hills.
Looking ahead, Newbold said that he is in shape to run sub-45 seconds or 45 seconds flat in the 400m and was looking to run a low 20 in the 200m.
“I’ve always been a good 200m runner and a quarter-miler. This year was definitely supposed to be that year. We were getting ready for the 2020 Olympics, but they gave us some extra time. It will be in 2021. I would just like them to know that Team Bahamas – we aren’t coming to play.”
One of the top junior high jumpers in the region, Shaun Miller Jr., and Wilson were working on approaches on Tuesday without the bar.
“Well, since coming back home, I realized I had lost a lot of weight. It was actually a good thing and coming back out here after a not so good season in school, getting my approach right again, that was good,” Miller said.
Miller was set to defend the under-20 boys high jump title at the 2020 CARIFTA Games, but that meet was canceled.
He said the transition from high school to a college freshman with the Ohio State University Buckeyes has been tough for him, but he added that he has managed to improve.
“It was a big transition,” Miller said. “When you have all your family around you, and then at just a snap of a finger everything is gone and you are on your own, that is a big transition. That was kind of rough for me but as the season went on, I started to pull it together inch by inch. I think now I’m over it so I’m kind of hyped to go back to school. Next year I just think that I need to do a whole lot more competitive running. This year it was just strictly jumps, no competitive 200m and 400. I’m looking to get back into some running events and just go on with the season.”
After training at the stadium, the trio went to the National Sports Authority (NSA) weight room to do some strength training. All three are looking to bounce back strong following the passing of the COVID-19 pandemic.