LIMA, Peru – The Bahamas managed just one medal at the 18th Pan American Games, and for historians that would be the biggest factor, understandably. The little speedster, Tynia Gaither, zipped the 200 meters (m) event in 22.76 seconds to give The Bahamas a bronze medal, the only bit of hardware captured.
Thus, with no legitimate argument against, Grand Bahamian Gaither provided the top performance. There were though, other quite appreciable efforts.
Let’s start with tennis, the first sport out of the gate for The Bahamas. Justin Roberts had become a known name in sporting circles. His rise to competing on a Continental stage had been well documented. Outside of tennis, however, few knew the name of Baker Newman. Now though, his name is linked to bit of Bahamian sports history, along with Roberts.
They both advanced beyond the first round of Pan AM singles, entering that elite category. Their second round matches were competitive, as was the doubles match, although, all defeats. They were outstanding front warriors for the country, and the tennis fraternity got a big bounce from the duo.
Sticking with the sports that had two representatives, I move now to judo. In a 57 kilogram (kg) match, Cynthia Rahming stepped onto the mat to represent her country against Kiara Arango, who had the support of an encouraging partisan crowd, and perhaps the general atmosphere as well, although I don’t wish to target, too much, the officials.
I would say though, I don’t know of, nor have I ever seen in all of my 50-plus years of closely watching, locally, regionally, and internationally, a fiercer representation than that which Rahming gave. Her spirit of determination and patriotic desire was equal to that of gold medal winners.
The point I make is that it is important, even in defeat, for athletes to be told that their performance was extraordinary. In judo, quality fighters are exceptional on defence, so points are rare in many matches. Aggressiveness, then becomes most significant. Rahming pressed the issue throughout the match, yet was penalized several times for lack of activity, or something of the sort. I couldn’t get an explanation that made sense to me.
The Peruvian fighter was given the win and afterward Rahming was distraught, but as is the culture in judo, she accepted her fate. Her performance was heart-warming, as she left it all on the mat. Her teammate Sasha Ingraham did not advance either in the 78 kg category, but Rahming certainly showed up very well for Bahamian judo.
In swimming, Laura Morley, Jared Fitzgerald, Luke-Kennedy Thompson, N´Nhyn Fernander, Davante Carey, Gershwin Greene, Lilly Higgs, Margaret Albury Higgs, Ariel Weech and Tyler Russell made up the 10-man team, the largest ever for Bahamas Swim Team in a senior event.
Morley led the way by attaining the A Final category, but as previously published, the combined number of national records and personal bests, were quite indicative of the transition process national swimming is engaged in, presently.
The future looks bright indeed, for senior swimming in The Bahamas.
In assessing those three disciplines, tennis, judo and swimming, and how the respective athletes performed, there are some back to the drawing board matters, but I observed nothing that I would consider a low point.
What about track and field, athletics?
Definitely there were high points, and yes some low performances.
Of course, as per the lead to his column, Gaither was fantastic. For a brief moment, during the race, I felt she was going to trail only the great Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (22.43 seconds) at the finish of the Pan Am women´s 200 meters sprint. On that day, though, Rosa Cristina of Brazil (22.62 seconds) had the edge.
Yet, the manner in which Gaither performed was noteworthy for more than just winning the bronze. She blazed out of the blocks, executed excellent curves and maintained down the stretch. Gaither was the most outstanding performer for Team Bahamas and she functioned with poise and professionalism that ought to be emulated by juniors, and yes, some seniors.
Jeffery Gibson placed fourth in his specialty, the 400 meters hurdles. His 49.53 seconds did not qualify him for the Worlds, but it was his season’s best and a quality effort for Team Bahamas. Three fifth-place finishes in finals belonged to Anthonique Strachan (22.97 seconds) in the 200 meters; Pedrya Seymour (13.12 seconds) in the 100 meters hurdles; and Tamara Myers (13.96m (45’ 7 1/4”)) in the triple jump. Ken Mullings finished sixth (7517 points) in the decathlon.
Devynne Charlton did not advance, but, she is coming, getting back to top form in her specialty the 100 meters hurdles. I had a chat with Charlton during her first practice day in Lima. That one has a great attitude and seems destined for many really good performances against the best in the world.
She closed out the quality efforts in athletics for The Bahamas, in my view.
My friend, the Grand Bahamian Donald Thomas, had (for him), a dismal performance in the high jump. He struggled at 2.10 meters and could not advance beyond that. Jamal Wilson went out at 2:10m (6’ 10 3/4”). At least, Thomas has already qualified for the Worlds and will have yet another chance at a medal on that lofty track and field stage. He won the World title in 2007.
The women’s 4x100m sprint and the men’s 4x400m relay teams are not worthy of any good comments. That’s my view.
Katrina Seymour was seventh in her heat of the women’s 400 meters hurdles with the time of 1:00.7. If you can’t break one minute in a lap around the track, clearing the set barriers, there is a question to be asked. Should such athletes be accredited?
Andre Colebrooke’s slow 51.76 seconds in his 400 hurdles heat, was a seventh place effort and far out of qualification for the final. Cliff Resias clocked a pedestrian 21.74 seconds for sixth in his 200m heat. Women are running that time these days with more regularity. At that pace, he would be hard-pressed to beat Shaunae Miller-Uibo at her peak. The Collie-Minns twins, Lathone and Latario, were not factors of importance. Lathone managed just a 15.78m (5’ 9 1/4”) performance for 11th place and his brother did not get into the act at all.
Brianne Bethel ran a very slow sixth place 11.76 seconds in her 100m heat and was far away from qualification. Forty-three years ago Claudette Powell was running around 11.76 seconds and 11.80 seconds in the 100m. She qualified for the Montreal 1976 Olympics and didn’t get out of the first round.
Warren Fraser was sixth also in his heat with the miserable time of 10.62 seconds. Sixty years ago, the great Tommy Robinson was running faster. In fact, Garth Fraser (Warren knows the name very well), over 50 years ago, was capable of running 10.62 seconds too or better. Warren is 28 and if he is to justify being considered an elite athlete, he must do much better.
That’s my outlook.
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