Thursday, August 10, 2017
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
LONDON, England: All of Steven Gardiner's sacrifices and accomplishments this year, and a crucial coaching change, culminated in the 400m silver medal he received on Wednesday night at the 16th IAAF World Championships.
"It's finally sinking in and I started to cry a bit with one tear and I had to suck it in a bit out there," said Gardiner of his prized possession.
"It feels really good - a pleasure to be the world silver medalist in an individual event."
On Tuesday night, Gardiner became just the second Bahamian to win a medal in the men's one-lap race at these championships, joining Avard Moncur, the gold medalist from the 2001 championships in Edmonton, Canada.
However, his silver behind world record holder Wadye van Niekerk from South Africa was the first for Team Bahamas in these championships so far.
"I've been working hard and I just put my hard work to use to get the medal," insisted Gardiner, who in the semis lowered his national record to an impressive 43.89 as he became the first Bahamian to dip under the 44-second barrier.
The native from Abaco, who moved to New Providence from coach Anthony Williams to George Cleare as a 200m specialist, has been knocking on the door of global prominence for the past three years.
After falling short in his world championship and Olympic Games debut where he failed to get out of the rounds, Gardiner has now proved that he's a world contender.
"It was very tough, moving up and down, switching coaches and moving to a new environment," said Gardiner, who is now based on Florida under coach Gary Evans.
"But at the end of the day, I managed to push through everything and look where I am now.
"The transition was fine with me.
"We were on the same page from day one. He's very humble and quiet. That is what I like about him."
After enduring a very cold night of rest following the chilly conditions that they had to compete in, Gardiner said he can take comfort in the fact that he's a world silver medalist.
Now he's hoping that since he's arrived on the world stage, he can enjoy even more days as a medalist. Starting with the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia from April 4-15, 2017.
"The future is to try to be on the podium as much as I can," he projected. "Every year, some people will be up and down, but that's life."
With more than 200 countries fighting for three medals in each event, Gardiner said he's just delighted to get one for the Bahamas.
He's hoping to be well rested so that he can come back over the weekend to try to claim another for the Bahamas when the preliminaries and the final of the 4 x 400m relay will be contested on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Van Niekerk said he's been watching Gardiner's progress and he's just as thrilled that he came out with the silver.
"He's been putting out some quality times and he's finally had the opportunity to break the 44-seconds as well," van Niekerk said.
"It's all of our dreams to break barriers and I'm please to see that he's finally broke through and hopefully it will go from strength to strength from now."
And van Niekerk said he was just as delighted with his success as the repeat champion.
"It's what we want to do.
"The consistency to try win gold medals.
"That is where the standard is right now," he insisted.
"It wasn't a very easy race with the weather.
"It was quite freezing, but we take the circumstances as it comes.
"It's equal to each and everyone of us, so I'm glad that last night worked out very well for me."
Now, Niekerk's quest is to become the first male athlete since American Michael Johnson in 1995, to win both the 200 and 400m titles in the same championships.