Friday, August 11, 2017
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
LONDON, England: When the relays get underway, a couple of young Bahamians, joining some of their veteran counterparts, will be eager to make their debut at the 16th IAAF World Championships this weekend inside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium.
Most of the athletes said the silver medal performance by Steven Gardiner in the men’s 400 metres on Tuesday night has really inspired them to go out and compete.
“Steven was just so amazing. I knew he was going to do something amazing,” said Shaquania Dorsett, who is preparing for the women’s 4 x 400m heats on Saturday. “I almost lost my voice cheering for him. He was incredible.”
Dorsett, who ran on the team at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau in April, said Gardiner’s initial medal is encouraging because now they want to go out and add to the medal haul.
“Everyone is good. We’re all focused, friendly,” said the 19-year-old Grand Bahamian now in her sophomore year at Florida State.
As the senior member of the women’s 4 x 400m relay team at age 37, Christine Amertil said she’s trying to do her best to make sure that the others get through the weather in London.
“We as athletes know that rain or shine, you have to go out and compete,” she insisted. “Everybody is doing their thing. We’re all preparing for our specific events. We’ve had some successes so far with Steven getting his medal and we’re looking for some more.
“His performance has been wonderful. Most of us were in separate places in the stadium cheering for him. I know the Bahamas was going crazy just like us. He set a tone, a precedent, so everybody is excited about getting a medal.”
Last year, Amertil said the women’s relay team shocked the world at the Olympics in Rio when they fell three positions shy of getting in the final, but they hope to improve on that here in London.
Lanece Clarke, a 29-year-old veteran in her first trip to London, concurred with Amertil.
“I’m excited about being here. So far the team has been doing very well and I just want to wish persons who have semifinals and others competing in the qualifying rounds coming up, the very best,” she stressed.
“Everybody is healthy, everybody is in sync with each other. Last year we got so close to qualifying after finishing 11th in the world, so we’re looking forward to getting to final and once we do that, we will take it from there.”
Janae Ambrose, a 19-year-old sophomore at Auburn University who is one of the members of the women’s 4 x 100m relay team, said Gardiner deserved to win a medal.
“He worked really hard this year, especially throughout the rounds,” said the Auburn University standout. “I expected him to medal. He started us off and I think we will have the energy needed to out there and win a medal just like he did.”
Penn State junior Keianna Albury from Eleuthera said the women’s 4 x 1 team is definitely going to feed off Gardiner’s success.
“We’re getting our exchanges in and trying to get the cohesiveness that we need to run well together,” she stated. “We know that we have to get the stick around the track as safe as possible, but as quickly as we can.”
In making her senior debut at a global event, 21-year-old Albury said she’s excited to be here.
“Steven was amazing. I can’t describe it. He went out there and performed every round. He was phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t wait for us to go out there and do our thing.”
For Kendrick Thompson, making the men’s 4 x 400m relay team was a dream come true.
“I’m very excited and hopefully we can get a medal and I can make my family, my hometown people and everybody proud,” Thompson pointed out. “I want to go out there and do my best.”
Thompson, a native of Andros, who attended high school in Grand Bahama and now enrolled at the University of the Bahamas, is one of the newcomers in the men’s 400m team. He said he was very proud watching Gardiner pick up the country’s first medal.
“One of my own in the 400m got a medal and a national record too,” he said. “I hope to do in the same in the next few years. He has really inspired me a lot. I see that I have a lot of things that I have to work on over the next few years to be able to get to his level or higher. Hopefully I will be there in the near future.”
Thompson, 19, said he feels the Bahamas can definitely get a medal with Gardiner being a part of the quartet.
As for the men’s 4 x 100m team, Joel Johnson, the youngest athlete registered to compete in the championships at age 16, said he’s enjoying every moment of his experience that he hopes will propel him to greater things in the future.
“It’s been a hell of a time,” said the St Augustine’s College standout. “It’s been a good experience seeing all of these countries come together. Hopefully as time goes, I’m looking forward to representing the Bahamas and a chance for us to get a medal.”
Johnson, fresh off his back-to-back appearances at the IAAF Under-18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya and the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau in July, said Gardiner’s performance has certainly inspired him to remain focused on his own goals and aspirations.
Sean Stuart, 20, was raised in Miami, Florida from the area of three. He attended St Augustine’s College and after his father introduced him to Rupert Gardiner, the relay coordinator for Team Bahamas, he said he was honoured when he was selected to represent the country.
“This is my first time at this level. I’ve had a series of injuries, but to cut the long story short, I’m here and I’m getting ready to make my presence felt for the Bahamas,” Stuart proclaimed. “I think Steven Gardiner has really inspired me because we are motivated to do the same thing that he has done – win a medal.”
Assistant coach Jason Edwards said while Gardiner’s medal was expected, they were all still elated when he won the silver because “it’s not easy to go out there and do it. I think he has set the tone for the team and we can look forward to some ever greater performances from the rest of the team.”